MARCHÂ 12, 2010: There has been an enthusiastic welcome for the new Small Farm Forum.
The national network has been 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 set up the Forum with support from the magazine. He took the initiative after another columnist, Alan Beat, said smallholders are losing out because they don’t have a voice at national level. Alan said that, from DEFRA’s perspective, there has been no smallholding body to consult. Among groups to show an interest in the Forum are Yorkshire Smallholders, Suffolk Smallholders Society, the Shropshire Smallholder Group, the Association of Scottish Smallholders, the Central Scotland Smallholderâ€™s Association, East Riding Smallholders, Lincolnshire Smallholding and Self-Sufficiency Club, the Poultry Club and the Rhea and Emu Association. Central Scotland Smallholderâ€™s Association said: â€œThe Forum seems an excellent idea and we are interested in participating.â€ Smallholder Zane von Romunde was among individuals who have responded. He wrote: â€œThis is a great idea! There are lots of very worthy reasons why this makes perfect sense, more and more so by the day.â€ Another Country Smallholding writer, Victoria Roberts, called the Forum â€œan excellent ideaâ€ . Tim Tyne, a career smallholder who has a farm in north Wales, said he hopes the new group will represent a very wide group of people who could be classed as smallholders. â€œWe need to cater for such a vast range of interests, from postage-stamp sized allotments, to a couple of hundred acres of rock-strewn mountain side (which is probably why no group like this has become established before!). “Small scale land managers will play a significant role in the long term sustainability of rural Britain. We deserve to be heard. â€œWhy call it Small Farm Forum, not Smallholder’s Forum or some other similar thing? Quite a number of very good reasons, I think. We have to acknowledge and promote the fact that we are an important part of the wider farming community, not some cranky fringe. Hopefully, small scale producers like us will become even more important in these changing times. The policies we need to influence are agricultural policies. We need to demonstrate our commitment to small scale (and very small scale) farming systems, whilst at the same time ensuring that we’re taken seriously by other related lobbying groups and government departments. â€œWe need to cater for both the â€˜hobbyâ€™ smallholder, and the more commercially-minded smallholder. Some smallholders currently sit between two camps, feeling that they do not fit into existing â€˜smallholderâ€™ associations or into mainstream farming organisations. We need to represent these people too.â€ Tim said all these ideas are up for discussion in the Forum, which will be a democratic group.Â Smallholding associations or individuals interested in the new network should email Tim Tyne at email@example.com