Professor Lobley was among invited guests at the Family Farmers’ Association’s (FFA) Annual Open Meeting at the Palace of Westminster

Chaired by the Right Reverend John Oliver, the meeting provided a forum for family farmers from across the UK to meet up and discuss matters.  This year’s discussions were focussed on the recent Brexit decision and how the FFA can seek to influence the future of farming in light of this. 

 

Professor Matt Lobley presented the findings of the research he undertook, alongside Professor Michael Winter, for the Prince’s Countryside Fund on the future of the small family farm in the UK.  This was followed by a response from Dame Helen Ghosh, Director of the National Trust.

One of the objectives of the report, described by HRH The Prince of Wales as a ‘fascinating read’, was to identify the extent of pace and change in the number of small farms by examining in detail how farms changed within a certain parish.  This was of particular interest to the Family Farmer’s Association as they had themselves conducted an informal survey of seventeen parishes back in 1990 which even then showed a large decline in full-time farm status since 1970.

Those in attendance were particularly interested to learn more about some of the report’s seventeen recommendations, including advice on helping small farm businesses become more resilient alongside advice for the agricultural sector and policy makers.  Professor Lobley also talked about the Farm Resilience Programme which has been launched by the Prince’s Countryside Fund as a direct result of the report.  The Farm Resilience Programme targets small, hard to reach farm businesses, encouraging them to engage with local support networks; a topic that is highly relevant to the Family Farmers’ Association.

Speaking after the event, Professor Lobley said “no one underestimates the challenges facing small family farms but the lively discussion was testament to the tenacity and commitment of the small farming community”.

Date: 10 February 2017

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