24 August 2001
Curry’s pledge to family farmers
By Isabel Davies
DON Curry, chairman of the governments commission into the future of food and farming, has promised to address the problems facing family farms.
Sir Don acknowledged that diversification and niche-marketing – a strategy for survival favoured by the government – is not an option for many producers.
The future of medium-sized family farms is a key concern, he said. “The majority of food is not going to be sold through niche markets or initiatives.”
Local food initiatives, niche marketing and regional branding would be important to some producers, but not everyone could follow the same route.
“The role of the family farms or the medium-sized business is something that is exercising the minds of lots of people and we certainly need to look at that.”
Sir Don has been less forthcoming on his vision of the future than Lord Haskins, who is co-ordinating a recovery plan for areas hit by foot-and-mouth.
Sir Don said he was keeping his thoughts to himself because he did not want members of his commission to be influenced by his views.
But he revealed: “I want to be radical in looking at solutions and I am not going simply to endorse the status quo or current policies.”
Sir Don admitted that some farmers would find some of the messages in his final report unpalatable but stressed it was important to manage change.
The first official meeting of the commission is set for early September.
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