Large-scale farming in Britain has been in decline for several years now, but a new interest in small farming could be just what is needed to boost the UK’s agriculture industry.
The Current State of Farming in the UK
It is an unfortunate fact that the agriculture in Britain has steadily been deteriorating over the last couple of decades. Whereas farming was traditionally one of the most common incomes, it is now estimated that only 1% of the population make a living this way. Many big farms have faced closures over recent years, with those wishing to survive often having to expand their businesses by opening up camping sites or offering leisure activities such as horse riding on their land.
The causes for this decline are complex. One of the main problems is competition from overseas. Farmers in other continents such as Africa and Europe can offer produce at extremely cheap prices to British supermarkets, meaning that there is less demand for the more expensive homegrown produce. Feeling the pressure to compete with foreign options, many British farmers have had to turn to large-scale machinery to mass-produce food – which unfortunately has meant job losses for skilled workers.
However, somewhat encouraging reports have shown that although the number of large farms in the UK has fallen, the number of small farms has increased significantly. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has stated that almost all the farmland sold in recent years has been to non-farmers, who wish to create a small farm.
What Is a Small Farm?
The term ‘small farm’ generally refers to any farm that is not utilised as a main form of income. They range from hobby farms in which people grow some vegetables and keep chickens on their own land, to smallholdings that people use as an extra income.
According to experts, a lot of the growth of small farming has come from the city-dwellers who move to the country and try their hand at agriculture on their land. Not much land is needed: in a decent sized garden there is enough room to grow a vegetable patch and keep chickens; an acre will be large enough for a couple of pigs; and a couple of acres can encourage landowners to keep a small flock of sheep or even a cow or two.
Why Is Small Farming Becoming So Popular?
There are a few reasons why small farming is becoming increasingly popular, aside from its attraction as a hobby. People are more aware of their health than ever, and want to know where their food is coming from. It’s for this reason that many people now enjoy growing their own food and being more self-sufficient. Furthermore, recent news stories such as the horse meat scandal has lessened people’s trust in supermarkets, particularly in regards to meat supply. Farmers markets and local selling is a much more attractive option for many people.
What Can You Do?
If you are interested in taking up small farming, or selling part of your land to somebody who may wish to use it for this purpose, then chartered surveyors can assess your land and advise you on the best practice.
Author – Adam has been writing articles for a number of years now with great levels of success in many different industry sectors