FEBRUARY 10, 2010: A new national network is to be set up as a focal point where smallholders and associated organisations can link up with each other, respond to Defra consultations and keep up to date with rules and regulations.

Country Smallholding writer Tim Tyne has offered to initiate the establishment of the ‘Small Farm Forum’ after another columnist, Alan Beat, said smallholders are losing out because they don’t have a voice at national level.In an Opinion article, Alan Beat said: “From DEFRA’s perspective, there is no-one to consult. A scattering of local smallholding groups do exist around the UK, but these operate independently, with no mechanism to represent their collective voice. Historically, such groups have shown no interest whatsoever in the decision-making process.”Tim Tyne, a career smallholder who has a farm in north Wales, said: “The current system of knowledge transfer appears to be failing smallholders. Although all the relevant information is available, it doesn’t seem to be reaching small-scale producers, and smallholders are missing out on opportunities to influence the decision making process. “The new Forum would provide a single national contact point for communication with Defra and the devolved administrations, thus ensuring that smallholder’s views are adequately represented. For this to be successful, the proposed forum requires the enthusiastic involvement of regional smallholder groups.”Smallholding associations or individual interested in the new network should email Tim Tyne at info@smallfarmforum.org.uk or through this magazine at editorial.csh@archant.co.uk

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