28 March 2000
Family farmers arrange own summit

By FWi staff

JONATHAN DIMBLEBY, broadcaster and president of the Soil Association, is to chair an alternative farm summit for crisis-hit family farmers.

The summit is for small producers who have been refused entry to the meeting between industry leaders and Tony Blair on Thursday (30 March).

Representatives from the National Federation of Young Farmers, the RSPB and Friends of the Earth have also agreed to attend the alternative summit.

It will be held in London just hours before the prime minister sits down with representatives of the National Farmers Union at Downing Street.

The alternative summit was arranged by Michael Hart, a family farmer who is chairman of the Small and Family Farms Association (SSFA).

Mr Hart believes that the underlying problems faced by farmers are the result of policies which result in ever-lower farm incomes for producers.

“Unless government addresses the faults in their long-term agriculture policy, it will become even more of a disaster for farming families,” he said.

Glyn Coleclough, chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers, said policies should be changed to encourage younger people into farming.

“Without the support of this government for new entrants into farming, there is no future for food production in this country,” he said.

Sandra Bell, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said the prime minister was in danger of excluding small producers from British agriculture.

“It is incredible that small farmers, who are hardest hit by the current crisis, have not been invited to the prime ministers farming summit,” she said.

“Small farmers have always made a vital contribution to the rural landscape and are well-placed to meet the challenges that the industry now faces.”