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Get back our food

Leigh with seedlings

Why has small-scale fruit and vegetable farming, which is the bedrock of any local food economy providing the weekly basics, all but disappeared in Wales?

How does locally grown fruit and veg sold direct to customers end up costing more than supermarket produce?

Why has food and drink consumption in a deeply rural area like Bannau Brycheiniog become the biggest source of carbon emissions for residents, way in front of the usual suspects, home heating and driving?

Why are we surrounded by thousands of acres of green fields suitable for growing fruit and veg but have a waiting list of experienced farmers unable to access any of it?

In two articles published in the welsh agenda, the Institute of Welsh Affairs’ online magazine, the Our Food 1200 team sets out to explain these strange phenomena.

How Wales gets its food back

Getting back our food: let there be farms

The simple answer to all the questions is Government policy. Which is good news, because it means changing Government policy would fix things!

The articles make three recommendations:

  1. Change the subsidy system so that small-scale commercial veg growing farms are subsidised on par with all other farming. (Currently 57% of Welsh farm income comes from subsidy and 20% from the sale of agricultural goods and services. For small veg farms the figures are 0% and 100%).
  1. Change planning rules so that small-scale commercial farmers can live on their land in a house, not a tent or caravan.
  1. Use County Farms to host small-scale veg growing businesses to provide a foundation for the local food economy.

One of the more striking stats to come out of these articles is that small-scale veg growing generates 151 times more net income per acre than the Welsh farming average!

The articles propose a national campaign, Get Back Our Food. There will be a discussion about this at the next Wales Real Food and Farming Conference in the autumn.

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