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The future of the farming and food industries

  • by JW



There’s been a huge amount of coverage of ‘the future of farming and food’:

Coronavirus: How will the outbreak affect food and farming? |

How The Coronavirus Will Shape The Food Supply Chain |



The Sid Valley has several dairy, sheep and arable farms:

A piece on BBC One’s Spotlight this evening looked at how dairy farmers are producing the milk as normal – but are unable to sell it through their usual channels:

Spotlight |

With milk being thrown away:

Coronavirus: Farmers dump milk as supply chain backs up |

And it’s a problem in India and in the States:

COVID-19 Lockdown Created Tension For Dairy Farmers As Unable To Sell Milk And Lack Of Food For Cows |

Unable to sell milk because of all the businesses closed by the virus, dairy farmers begin to dump their product |


A solution which would bring both an immediate effect and longer-lasting change would be to buy local:


DAIRY farmers need Government support to survive the Covid-19 lockdown as demand from cafes and restaurants has dried up, it has been urged.

Some dairy farmers are reporting having to pour milk from their cows away because it is not being picked up by processors in the face of a drop in demand from the food services sector and, in some cases, staff shortages.

Dairy farmers need support to survive Covid-19 lockdown as demand dries up |


While shelves at some major retailers are stripped bare of eggs, meat and milk, produce is still in plentiful supply at farm shops, growers, raw milk suppliers and other local food businesses.

Gerald Miles, who runs Caerhys Organic Community Agriculture (COCA) from his farm at St Davids, is urging Welsh shoppers to grasp the opportunity to stock their cupboards with locally produced food.

He hopes the current crisis will change buying habits and result in long-term support from consumers to local businesses, not only at times when they can’t get key items at a supermarket.

Coronavirus: Welsh growers urge public to buy direct |

‘Buy food direct’ say growers |



There are similar issues for the food industry – which relies heavily on the tourist trade in Sidmouth.

The latest news is that Devon’s Trading Standards agency is reminding owners of guest houses, campsites and restaurants in Sidmouth to remain closed this Easter to help combat coronavirus:

Coronavirus: Sidmouth businesses told to remain closed this Easter |

And several businesses in Sidmouth and East Devon are featured in a piece today from Devon Live looking at the plight of the industry:

Prominent Devon food and drink businesses speak of struggles they’re facing |


The solution? Again, it’s about doing it locally, as reported in the weekend’s Observer:


Step up to the plate: the people helping to sustain UK food supply

Individuals and grassroots groups are working to provide fresh produce amid coronavirus

The sight of UK supermarket shelves being stripped bare in a matter of days and farmers warning that lack of workers could cause produce to go to waste has highlighted how quickly food supply chains can be disrupted.

Though supermarkets have introduced rationing and panic buying appears to be on the wane, there is lingering uncertainty about what to expect in the weeks and months ahead. Some food producers and suppliers have acted quickly and creatively to try to ensure fresh food remains available across the UK.

Here are some of the people and grassroots initiatives trying to make a difference.

The community group

Planna Fwyd – Welsh for plant food – is a community project in the Dyfi Valley in mid Wales.

The project organises a variety of food production initiatives, from Zoom lessons for first-time crop growers to sending out seed packets for families to grow in their gardens, and has about 100 local people involved. The group also plans to organise a second world war-style “land army” of volunteers to work on farms, with about 30 people signed up and plenty more showing interest, out of a town of 2,000 people.

The local farmers’ initiative

As restaurants close their doors, many farmers are struggling to sell their produce to their usual suppliers, while more people are eating at home and struggling to get food from supermarkets.

In response to this, Cathy St Germans established Farms to Feed Us, a digital database that connects people with farmers, enabling them to buy fresh food directly. So far, more than 80 farmers, growers and suppliers across the country have signed up.

“There’s no shortage of fresh produce on our farms and being fished in our seas,” she said. “There has never been a more important time to eat healthy food and support your local farmers, growers and fishermen.”

She added: “We really focus on small-scale farmers and growers, where the ground isn’t having its life sprayed out of it. It’s not just about being organic, the size and ethos of the farms matter.”

Step up to the plate: the people helping to sustain UK food supply |