UK Farming 'Facing 20 Years of Big Changes' Farming
Byline: By Anna Lognonn
UK farming is going to change dramatically over the next 20 years, Defra Secretary of State David Miliband told delegates at yesterday's Oxford Farming Conference.
Farmers at the event were told that the industry was already starting to evolve to cope with a worldwide market and take on the challenges of climatic change. But Mr Miliband warned that the transition would gather pace.
He said: "Farming in England is in transition. Over the next two decades, its entire operating environment will change.
"Global demand for its products and services will rise dramatically as a result of rising population and wealth. As well as new markets there will be new competitors. Consumers are demanding more information on where their food has come from and how it has been produced. We need in 2007 to develop the confidence and security that comes from a shared vision of the future of farming, and the respective responsibilities of the industry, government, retailers and consumers in making that vision a reality.
"Our role is to deliver a policy framework that encourages innovation and investment to build market share and justify public spending. I want all of Government to see that support for farming is vital - to understand the impact its policies have on farming, and the knock-on effects these have on landscapes, on tourism and on the rest of the rural economy."
To benefit from these changes, Mr Miliband said farmers need to increase the scale of their operations, through either consolidation or co-operation, and move up the food chain to add value to their products. Diversification was also an important factor. He said: "In 2020, if we are successful, farmers will be making money from a wide variety of new products, notably in the environmental field as they farm energy, farm water, and farm carbon, as well as farming food. …