New farming shakes up the countryside

11 May 1998

‘New farming’ shakes up the countryside

FARMING is increasingly being concentrated into the hands of absentee owners who have no background in agriculture, reports The Guardians G2 supplement.

Strutt and Parker, the London estate agents, says more than half of all farms of more than 81ha (200 acres) sold in Britain now go to people outside agriculture.

There are predictions that within a few years perhaps just 12,000 people will be doing all Britains farming compared to an estimated one million 50 years ago. Britain is thought to have lost about 30,000 full-time farmers over the past 10 years.

Small farmers are getting out as the farming crisis bites. The new farming, dependent increasingly on the world market and the European agenda, demands economies of scale and that means labour-intensive work like cattle is being phased out.

Some of the newcomers rent their land to neighbours and “contract” farmers are increasingly being employed.

  • The Guardian (G2) 11/05/98 page 8-9

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