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Small Farms Produce

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 16th May 2002.

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Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her action to improve opportunities for small farmers to market their produce.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Policy Commission Report on Farming and Food made a number of recommendations relating to local and regional foods, which will help support and develop the opportunities for small farmers to market their produce. We have invited views on these recommendations, in order to inform our action plan for the farming and food sectors. This action plan will be launched in the autumn.

The Government are already involved in a number of initiatives aimed at encouraging local food production and marketing. The England Rural Development Programme provides grant aid for a range of activities that may be of benefit to farmers seeking to sell produce locally. We have also assisted various local projects under the Agricultural Development Scheme, as well as supporting the National Association of Farmers' Market's training and accreditation programmes and the development of the South-West Food and Drink Organisation.

Through Food from Britain we contribute to the funding of a network of regional food groups which provide trade development services to regional and speciality food producers, some of whom are farmers.

We have actively encouraged the development of farmers' markets, as has the Countryside Agency which receives its grant aid from DEFRA. Farmers may also derive benefit from the Countryside Agency's "Eat the View" programme which seeks to promote local products that support sustainable land management.

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