Survey aims to build picture of small farms

Researchers are seeking the views of those who run small family farms in a bid to assess the contribution these businesses make to the UK’s agricultural industry.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund (PCF) has commissioned academics at the University of Exeter to undertake a study on the performance and prospects for the small farm sector in the UK.

Researchers want to know what small farms contribute to the agricultural sector, the rural economy and communities and the countryside.

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In particular, they would be keen to hear from farms that are performing well to pass on lessons to the whole sector.

The research, carried out by the Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (LEEP), which now incorporates the university’s Centre for Rural Policy Research, will examine how a viable and vibrant small farm sector can be encouraged and supported.

The research team is seeking answers to the following questions:

  • What do small farms contribute to the agricultural sector, the rural economy and communities, and the countryside which is distinctive and important in comparison to larger farms?
  • How might a viable and vibrant small farm sector be encouraged and supported? This might include: the use of CAP measures, the operation of supply chains, taxation rules, tenure legislation, access to finance, and practices around succession and new entrants
  • How might small farmers improve performance and viability through, for example, increased efficiency, added value, diversification, and co-operation?

In addition, any evidence detailing examples of “good practice” where small farm businesses have thrived and where lessons might be learned for the sector as whole, would be welcomed.

Written evidence submitted to the Small Family Farm Project will be used for both academic purposes and by the PCF as part of their work in supporting family farmers. Email responses to:

The deadline for submissions is 12pm Wednesday 20 April.

  • For the purposes of the research a small farm is defined as a one to two person farm, for example, requiring less than two full-time Equivalent Standard Labour Requirements (SLRs).
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