In the United Kingdom 69% of the land mass is taken up by agricultural activities. That includes both farming of course grazing lands which is a much less efficient user of ag lands.
Like most of the rest of the developed world the percentage of British citizens employed in the agricultural field has steadily fallen over the course of the last 200 years and now sits at merely 1.5% of the country’s total workforce, and those fewer than 1/2 million people produce just under 10 Billion GBP.
Food Insecurity In the UK
While a great deal of land and resources is leveraged through modern farming to produce a staggering amount of food, the raw number of immigrants into the UK in recent years has meant that the UK relies on food imports to feed its mass of people. in fact, the United Kingdom produces under 60% of the food it consumes.
Steadily Aging Workforce
Much like in the US, the age of the average farmer in the UK has been steadily climbing. The reasons for this seem to be plentiful but the primary contributing factors appear to be:
- relatively low earnings for the average farmer
- shortage of available rental farmland
- high land prices for purchase
Better opportunities elsewhere in the Great Britain’s vibrant economy has discouraged the average young person from working to overcome the aforementioned challenges and the average age of the British farmer is 59 years old. There is much discussion in farming circles in the UK what this will mean for the future of farming on the islands in the next 10 or 20 years.
The Appeal of Organics
In an effort to bolster earnings on their keeps and move to a more sustainable business model, many UK farmers have been attracted to the idea of organic farming.
While the rules and regulations governing the production of certified organic agriculture differ in the UK than in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the concepts are generally similar. There is a push towards on-farm inputs, avoiding chemical sprays for the reduction of pests and a zero-tolerance policy on the implementation of GMO’s in food production.