New research has been published that finds an increasing number of farmers want to work more collaboratively with community groups and local businesses but need support to overcome the perceived barriers.
The research, commissioned by Plunkett Foundation as part of Making Local Food Work, shares for the first time what farmers believe to be the benefits and barriers of working more collaboratively with local communities and businesses. It finds:
• Approximately a third of farmers currently work with local businesses and networks, and a further third would consider doing so in the future;
• Over a third of farmers surveyed would consider being part of a distribution scheme or working collaboratively to secure contracts in the future;
• Younger farmers (under the age of 45 years) are significantly more likely to currently work co-operatively with other farmers and community groups than their older counterparts.
The research found that:
• 47% of farmers surveyed believe that working with local businesses and networks would be more profitable and would create a fairer pricing structure for producers;
• Over a quarter of farmers believe that working with local businesses and networks makes it easier to respond more directly to customer needs;
• Almost a quarter of farmers surveyed feel that they would have a greater say and control over their products if they worked with local businesses.
However, there were also perceived barriers stopping farmers from developing these collaborative links, such as not having enough time, issues with supplying smaller quantities and the additional paperwork.
Plunkett Foundation is now launching a campaign to raise awareness among the farming community and community food enterprises about the mutual benefits of working together, and the role that creating stronger local networks may play in the future of farming. As part of the campaign, Plunkett has published three guides – one research summary document outlining the key findings with recommendations on addressing the challenge of creating a greater future for farming within local communities; one guide aimed at community food enterprises and local business and the other at the farming community. These have been sent out to farmers, businesses and key stakeholders and organisations up and down the country. You can download the publications here:
The research was completed by SPA Future Thinking, an independent market research company, on behalf of Plunkett Foundation. It included sampling from a database of 5,000 farm contacts purchased from Farmers Weekly magazine, with a postal survey undertaken gathering quantitative data and in-depth qualitative research undertaken with a sample from the completed postal surveys. For more information about the research or campaign, please contact Harriet English on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01993 814372.