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Farming and Food: A Sustainable Future


The vision of a sustainable, competitive and diverse farming and food sector plays a dynamic role in the rural economy and delivering the environment goals effectively and efficiently (Anon, 2007). Food and farming are significantly contributing to the UK economy through the production of food and the impacts upon the countryside environment. This industry accounts for almost 8% of GDP and 12.5% of employment, farmers are responsible for looking after 70% of land. Therefore, farming has major impacts on environment in both positive and negative ways. However, this industry is facing difficulties and significant long term pressures. Therefore, it is necessary to find ways and means to uplift and sustain the industry for the future of the country (Anon, 2002a; Rackam, 1995). The changes in better farming practices and cooperation across the food chain and real efforts to protect and enhance the environment are most appropriate. The policy commission is looking for a profitable and sustainable farming and food sector. The aim of the commissions is to advise the government on how to create a sustainable, competitive and diverse farming and food sector (Anon, 2002b).

The analysis

The challenges of the sustainable farming and food industry have been analysed under three main elements of sustainable such as economy, environment and social (Anon, 2002). Productivity is lower by 20% than the world leaders in food production because of the extremely variable lower investment in people and capital, which leads 20-30% lower employment than other European Union countries and Japan in food and drink industries. Therefore, lower profitability leads the income of farmers to lowest level ever since the 1030s. It is obvious that agriculture generates significant environmental benefits; however, it also has several negative impacts such as emission, water pollution and disruption of biodiversity. This is supported by the cost and amounts of waste generated in food industry, in general 10 tonnes of row material are needed to produce 1 tonne of food, the remaining 90% discarded as waste especially in packaging. Agriculture has significant social impact as more than half million UK jobs comes under food and drink manufacturing industries. Food and mouth disease outbreak illustrated severe impact on wider rural economy and farmers. Food production along with its demand and supply also causes impacts on diet habit and diet related ill-health (Anon, 2002).


According to Greenwell (2002) the government strategy for sustainable farming and food makes some worthwhile commitments and provide verbal support for the industry, however fails to address the key challenges in restoring the profitability of farming. Sustainable farming is an environmental friendly approach; however, it gives lower net profitability in terms of total productivity. In the meantime, traditional agriculture satisfy the farmers immediate requirements with increased productivity, however causes significant environmental hazards. It has failed to understand and address the fundamental weakness of agriculture in the UK in relation to market strength. About 250,000 farming businesses make up a small industry in an indifferent urban society where the food chain is in oligopolistic hands. Because the production from these small holders can produce only 1% of farming out put, which is too small to have any presence in the market place (Anon, 2009). Diversity of farming also provides farmers more profitability through recreation and tourism during off season, however continuous usage of farm land leads to the degradation of the land value along with increased environmental hazards. Countryside is not only valued for farming, timber and minerals, it is also useful for wildlife, scenic quality, cultural significance, recreational opportunities and other benefits includes water supply and carbon storage (Anon, 2009). However, the UK water endorses the Curry Report and urges the government to adopt it towards the sustainability of the food and farming industry.


The sustainable future of the food and farming industry is becoming under thread due to the increasing demand for food and other needs. A changing lifestyle, an increasing environmental concern and present economic recession also cause significant impact on the industry. Therefore, there is a big task ahead for the government to find the means and ways to keep the industry sustainable. The policy commission has proposed several activities to make the industry sustainable and profitable. However, the practicability of the proposed plan is debatable as far as environmental issues are concerned. Therefore, sound and promising plans should be validated towards the sustainable future of the industry.

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