It is feared the UK’s farming industry could suffer a critical shortage in skilled labour if younger people aren’t attracted into the profession.
40% of the agricultural workforce in the UK is over 50, almost half of farm owners and managers don’t have anyone to take over the business, and over the next decade 60,000 new people will be needed to replace retiring workers. A main factor for this is that young working force doesn’t believe they will be able to make a living out of it. This is probably true, considering that the majority of us rush day in day out to supermarkets for their shopping list.
How much would it help independent small businesses, and that does include our farmers, if each person who lived or worked nearby came in and spent a few pounds every month in farmers markets-money that would otherwise go to an online retailer or a big national chain. Buying locally is especially important in these days of cash-strapped councils. A big chunk of those funds stay in the community as added tax revenues, local hiring and reinvestment. Shopping and dining close to home may also help save businesses and although you may believe that you are saving money by visiting the big supermarkets.
Us personally, all of our milk gets delivered by our local farmer, as for shopping for our customers’ dinner parties, again, farmers markets are our main suppliers. Where else can you find the freshest, handpicked, locally grown produce, eggs, and meat products and a friendly farmer who is accommodating and grateful as opposed to a machine in a supermarket checkout telling you loudly “unauthorised item in the bagging area”. Yes may be we are paying few pennies more than we would be paying in a supermarket, but that is because these big guys are squeezing the farmers to sell it to them at bottom prices and in some cases at a lost margin. Most people don’t think about or realize how fragile small farmers are and how close to the edge many operate.
So if you choose to be a conscious consumer – support your local farmers by spending 10% of what you usually spend in a supermarket in your local farm shop or farmers market. Not only you will be helping your local businesses but you will be learning more about local produce and products; and bringing healthy (chemical free) foods to your table. We do.