Community Farming Projects

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at on 19 October 2023.

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Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We welcome community farms in England, because they give local communities a chance to become involved in the countryside. Like any other farm, they may be eligible for a variety of grants enabling smaller farms to be supported more fairly. We have introduced a sustainable farming incentive management payment, and we have also extended the farming in protected landscapes fund until March 2025. The fund is open to farmers in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, allowing them to deliver projects to support nature, climate, people and places.

Photo of Christine Jardine Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Women and Equalities), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Figures from a social return on investment study show that every £1 invested in a community farm is worth £9 of community benefits through food production, new skills and community resources. In my constituency, for instance, Lauriston Farm is investing in a community orchard and gardens, outdoor learning and a community kitchen to help people pick up new skills and produce affordable food. Does the Minister agree that in a cost of living crisis it is critically important for people to have access to such facilities, and that more needs to be done to help small community projects to maximise their potential?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I pay tribute to those who are involved in that community project. As the hon. Lady will know, agriculture is devolved to the Scottish Government, and I hope they will use some of the £620 million a year that they are given to support Scottish farmers. I am sure she will be a tenacious campaigner in holding the SNP Government to account.