The battle between cheap food and organic farmers
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According to a recent poll by YouGov for 71 percent of British consumers, buying their food local is important. Nevertheless, the big majority (75 percent) of UK’s population admits to buying their groceries at bigger supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda, Morrisons or Sainsbury’s. British consumers expect cheap food, but this also comes with a price. These products are often heavily processed, full of sugar or pesticides. Great Britain also has the tendency to import produce that could be farmed on their home land. A good example for that is the growth of asparagus. Only six percent of the consumed asparagus in the UK grew on British soil; the vast majority is imported from Peru.
At the beginning of the year, the government set up a Great British Food Unit to increase exports of food and drink and announced that this would be the year of Great British Food. In order to encourage the mentality change towards a more local agriculture and food consumption, 45 million pounds have been injected into the local food production. And this investment shows the first signs of success, given that the consumption of local food produce rose 15% during the last financial year. Locally sourced food, like Fair Trade or organic produce, has become a small but fast growing market. Nevertheless, this has not helped the situation for British farmers to get better. The income of pig farmers fell by 46% last year and the income of cereal farmers has declined 24%. Also 1,000 dairy farms had to close, asphyxiated by cheap milk prices. British farmers receive 60% of their income from EU Common Agricultural Policy payments, for instance, to make improvements to the environment.
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