22 April 1998
Arable alternatives needed
to keep ahead of the game

HISTORY tells us we need as many arable alternatives as possible to keep ahead of the agricultural game, writes Joan Thirsk, former president of the British Agricultural History Society, in The Guardian.

She says farmers are in deep trouble, with prices for mainstream produce falling. Farmers are expected to receive only a quarter or even a third of their average income this year, she writes.

She trawls through history, illustrating three other times when the drive to produce more and more mainstream foodstuffs, cereals and meat has backfired.

Each time, farmers endured a long spell of reduced demand, forcing them to find alternatives. She says we should take a lesson from history fourth time round.

  • The Guardian (Society) 22/04/98 page 4-5