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Barbara’s Blog

ANOTHER BUST GROWING

23-10-2008

Farmland

It’s not only the financial sector where boom has followed bust. As Barbara Panvel reports, there are problems down on the farm too.

Bust has followed boom in the financial sector and fears are being voiced that we might now face a similar period of boom and bust in farming.

Wheat prices rose sharply on the international market last year and growers responded to this by producing a booming global wheat harvest. The result has been bust - a fall in prices – a cycle long experienced by cocoa, coffee and cotton growers in the developing world.

Producers here have had no choice but to sell at a loss because - as George Morran [Localise West Midlands] points out - so many storage barns have been converted for housing.

It is reported that, with low prices following a bumper harvest, European growers facing massive rises in the cost of fuel, fertiliser and pesticide are likely to plant less next year – and if weather is bad there could be a shortfall in supply. This would be followed by another hike in prices and farmers would once more increase plantings.

Falling prices adversely affect local economies - not only producers but millers, maltsters, feed merchants and other suppliers.

UK and European farmers’ leaders see only one way of constructing a more stable system and that is reminiscent of Fairtrade practice abroad: forging relationships within the supply chain to give all sides a greater degree of certainty over price and supply.

They are calling on supermarkets and other buyers to offer ‘sustainable supply relationships’ and build long term confidence – otherwise even more farmers will leave farming, production levels will drop and less home produced food will be available.

Some councils bidding for Fairtrade status are now applying Fairtrade principles to local food producers and information about campaigns by several organisations advocating a fair price for British food producers can now be seen on LWM's website in the Projects & Activities section - http://www.localisewestmidlands.org.uk

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