Farmers and consumers are losers in skewed market, says Dyson

Britain’s biggest farmer, Sir James Dyson, has warned that consumers and farmers are both losing out in a market that is “fundamentally skewed”.

The entrepreneur said it is retailers who reap the benefits and his focus will now be on selling direct to the consumer to try and fix a disconnect with the industry.

Reducing reliance on subsidies as Brexit looms is another priority for Sir James’s farming business, which now owns more than 14,000ha of farmland in the UK and employs 169 people.

See also: Beeswax Dyson moves into research ahead of Brexit uncertainty 

Sir James wrote on his website: “For each pound you spend on a packet of peas or potatoes, the retailer gets about 70p; while the farmer – who bears all the risk with weather, and all the investment in machinery – gets just 8p.”

The 73-year-old said sustainable food production and food security are vital to the country’s health and economy and there is a “real opportunity for agriculture to drive a revolution in technology and vice versa”.

He added: “I’m excited about the future of agriculture, despite the undoubtedly significant challenges that the sector faces.

“In recent years, we have been investing heavily in getting the basics right – soil quality, infrastructure, new technology and stewardship.

“Now we are turning our attention to making the farms work as a business, making them profitable, moving away from subsidies and providing food and energy for consumers.”

He also rather intriguingly mentions a future link between his farming production and Dyson products.

Farmers Weekly’s #FeedTheNation campaign has highlighted the success stories of farmers selling from the farmgate direct to consumers.

Many have added value to their product, in particular the dairy sector through milk vending machines, where the profit margins are significantly higher compared to selling to a processor.

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This article forms part of Farmers Weekly’s Transition series, which looks at how farmers can make their businesses more financially and environmentally sustainable.

During the series we follow our group of 16 Transition Farmers through the challenges and opportunities as they seek to improve their farm businesses.

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