3 April 2000
Brown urges farmers to diversify

by FWi staff

AGRICULTURE minister Nick Brown has urged farmers to move away from food production and embrace alternative enterprises.

Mr Brown acknowledged that British agriculture was undergoing a period of remorseless change and called on farmers to restructure.

Farmers should diversify away from growing crops and rearing livestock and instead become more market-focused, he said.

Enterprises such as farmers markets, riding stables, tourism, and organic farming would help employ more people in agriculture and revitalise rural areas.

Mr Brown suggested that the government was prepared to pay farmers to look after the countryside rather than producing food.

Speaking on the BBC1 programme On The Record, he said: “Thats the road down which we are travelling. We are remorselessly in a period of change.”

Government supports are more likely to come from purchasing valuable public goods like the landscape and not subsidising food production, he added.

“We should put less money into direct agricultural supports or compensating for price cuts.”

Mr Brown also indicated that farmers would have to learn to live with the strong Pound which many producers blame for threatening their livelihoods.

“I favour a restructuring of the industry regardless of the exchange position.”