The importance of farmers in agriculture cannot be understated. They are the industry’s backbone, responsible for producing food and other crops. Farmers play a vital role in ensuring food security and are essential to the economy. However, the lack of farmers in the field has severely affected the agricultural industry in recent years.In 2020, 26% of people worldwide were involved in agriculture, whereas the number was previously 44% in 1991.
The Importance of Farmers in Agriculture
Farmers contribute to food production in a variety of ways. They use their knowledge of the land to grow crops and raise livestock in a way that is efficient and sustainable. They also work hard to ensure that their products meet the highest quality standards. In addition, farmers are always looking for new ways to improve their methods and increase their yields. Their efforts contribute to the overall food supply and to help feed the world.
Farmers play a vital role in livestock farming. They are responsible for providing the animals with food, water and shelter and ensuring their welfare. They also play a crucial role in breeding and rearing the animals and providing them with the necessary care and husbandry. In addition, farmers play an essential role in providing the animals with the required vaccines and medications.
Farmers play a vital role in cash crop production by planting, growing, and harvesting the crops. They also ensure that the crops are of good quality and that crops are free of pests and diseases. Farmers also play a role in marketing the produce and getting them to the consumers.
You can read more about The Main Jobs of Farmers here.
Reasons for the Lack of Farmers
There are several reasons for the reduction in the number of farmers in agriculture;
Competing With Technology
One of the main reasons is the increased mechanisation of basic farming operations. With the advent of new technology, many tasks that were once done by hand are now done by machine and/or technology. This change has decreased the need for farm workers, and as a result, less workers are required on farm. These lower level workers could be future farmers.
Another reason for the declining number of farmers is the consolidation of farmland. As farms have become more efficient, there has been a trend towards fewer, larger farms. This trend has lessened job opportunities for farmers and contributed to the decline in the number of farmers.
The economic downturn has impacted the agriculture industry and has reduced the number of farmers, as costs of farming have increased whilst profits have reduced. With farm incomes decreasing, many farmers struggle and have been forced to leave the profession.
Extreme Climate Change
Climate changehas impacted the number of farmers in many ways. One way is that changes in temperature and precipitation have made it difficult to grow crops in certain areas. Another way is that extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, have resulted in farmers losing crops. Additionally, rising temperatures have made it difficult for farmers to keep their animals cool, leading to increased mortality rates. Finally, changes in the timing of the growing season have made it difficult for farmers to plant and harvest their crops promptly. All of these factors have led to a decrease in farmers worldwide, as farming has become less straightforward.
Expensive Farm Technologies
The high price of new technology has hurt the number of farmers. To purchase the latest and greatest technology, farmers have had to spend more money and/or increase the amount of finance and loans which they have. This issue has strained their finances and many have been forced to sell their farms. Technology’s high price has also made it difficult for farmers to compete with larger, more established farms. As a result, the number of farmers has decreased in recent years.
Long and Tiring Schedules
The long hours that farmers tend to work has taken a toll on their numbers. In addition to the job’s physical demands, the long hours often result in mental and emotional fatigue. It is rare for farmers to take holidays, (even weekends) as they simply cannot leave their farms, as things need tending to on a daily basis. This fatigue can lead to mistakes, putting farmers at risk of injury or even death. In addition, the long hours can also lead to mental health problems, forcing farmers to leave the industry as they simply cannot cope with the stress put upon them. You can read more about "Are Long Working Hours the Cause of Farm Accidents?" here.
Stressful Working Requirements
Farmers struggle and face a variety of stressors daily. These can include weather-related stresses, such as too much or too little rain, extremes of heat or cold and wind damage. They may also face economic pressures, such as volatile markets, low prices and high input costs. In addition, farmers may deal with social stresses, such as isolation, community conflict and family dynamics. Farmers losing crops on their farms is another issue that leads to financial restraints. These stressors can take a toll on farmers’ mental and physical health and personal relationships.
Post-Brexit Funding Loss
The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union has contributed to a shortage of farmers in the UK. Prior to Brexit, farmers in the UK were able to trade with other EU member states freely. However, since Brexit, farmers have faced new trade barriers and tariffs, making it more difficult to sell their products.
Farmers’ farm fundings through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have also been discontinued, putting additional financial strain on farmers. This issue has led to many farmers leaving the industry, resulting in a shortage of farmers in the UK.
All of these factors have contributed to the reduction in the number of farmers in agriculture.
What is the UK Government Doing for Farmers?
Numerous farmers struggle to keep a sustainable business, whilst others want to leave the sector. Here are the schemes the UK government has introduced for its farm labour;
Lump Sum Exit Scheme
Since its inception in 2021, the UK’s Lump Sum Exit Scheme(LSE Scheme) has been a positive for farmers. The LSE provides farmers with a one-time lump sum payment to help them exit the farming sector and pursue other livelihoods. This scheme has helped many farmers to leave the industry and start new businesses or take up new employment. The LSE Scheme has also been credited with helping to reduce the number of suicides among farmers, which had been a significant problem in previous years. Overall, the LSE has been a great success and has benefitted many farmers across the UK.
Environmental Land Management
The post-Brexit labour shortage has severely impacted the agricultural industry. The government of the UK is determined to turn this around by introducing new schemes under the Agriculture Act 2020. This new approach, Environmental Land Management (ELM), allows farmers to seek funding for sustainable farming, restoration of habitats and food production, amongst other things.
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