Currently in the UK, the entire country’s farmland is in the hands of less than one per cent of the population. Land prices have escalated, increasing by an average of £2000/acre over the last 10 years or so. This can be blamed on a number of issues, property speculation playing a large role. Raising capital to fund a smallholding is also becoming harder, taking out a mortgage to fund a small-scale farming project is no longer an option available to many.
With the average age of a UK farmer being between 60 and 70 and farming skills being undermined, something needs to be done to ensure the future of our food system. Relying heavily on imports, large scale production and fossil fuels we need to build a sustainable food system that is based on small-scale producers. Efforts must be made to make it easier for small scale food producers to gain access to land and also learn skills that are being lost as larger scale production takes over. It must be made easier for young people to gain access to land and build knowledge and skills to farm it in a sustainable manner.
The Landworkers Alliance is campaigning to facilitate access to land for those who want to farm, and for more effective land distribution. Supporting access to land in this way promotes small scale farming which in turn leads to social equality and food security.
Europe: Land concentration and land grabbing occurring and reaching blatant levels
Land concentration and land grabbing do not occur only in developing countries in the South; in fact, both are underway in Europe today. A new report by European Coordination Via Campesina and Hands off the Land network shows that land grabbing and access to land are a critical issues today in Europe, and also reveals that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidy scheme and other policies is implicated in a variety of ways.
The report, involving 25 authors from 11 countries and titled Land concentration, land grabbing and people’s struggles in Europe, reveals the hidden scandal of how just three per cent of landowners have come to control half of all farmed land. This massive concentration of land ownership and wealth is on a par with Brazil, Colombia and Philippines.
Read the Report: