25 March 1999
SAFFA asks for government probe

THE Small and Family Farms Alliance is to ask the government to appoint a small farms Commission to look into the present and future status and role of Britains smaller family farms.

Spokesman Mike Hart said farm minister, Nick Brown, had agreed to meet alliance representatives and the request for a commission would be put to him then.

Mr Hart felt it was already clear that Agenda 2000 reforms would result in a bleak future for small family farms, though there was slight hope that something of benefit could come out of the optional elements of the package.

Already many small farmers were giving up. Others faced bankruptcy, the suicide rate was worrying, and the stress caused by uncertainty was affecting family relationships. Apart from the economic and social impact at family and community level, disappearance of those small farms would affect the landscape, environment and wildlife.

The alliance wanted a commission set up quickly and ordered to report quickly, say within six months. It should look in detail at the likely consequences of the Agenda 2000 reforms and the trend to world market prices and so-called competitiveness, Mr Hart said.

He said the USA, a major force in freeing up world trade, had already set up a small farms commission.