With the ongoing Agricultural Transition in England, we have produced a short briefing for Defra – the UK government Department for Environment and Rural Affairs to tell them about community supported agriculture in the UK, how it works, its multiple benefits and our policy proposals for Defra to support CSA farms across the UK.
In short, we’ve asked Defra and the government to recognise and reward community supported agriculture as a successful farming model that addresses a wide range of policy benefits beyond the production of food. Including:
- Access to local fresh and nutritious food
- Offering communities direct connection and engagement with UK farmers and farmland
- Mental and physical health and wellbeing benefits for communities and volunteers
- A short supply chain local retail model which cuts transport and marketing costs and is competitive on price
- Providing exceptional environmental public goods
We urge Defra to consider supporting the CSA Network to deliver more training, support and resources to existing and new CSAs in the UK.
We also ask that grants, loans and start-up capital are made accessible for small farms, that community facilities are set up that can be shared by multiple farms and that second-hand machinery is included in equipment funds.
We ask that Defra remove the current 5-hectare minimum farm size criteria (as it has been under the EU Common Agricultural Policy direct payment scheme), from all their support and payment schemes so that smaller farms can apply. We know that CSAs on average farm on 2.5 hectare farms.
Finally, we ask that local councils protect and share their county farm estates making land available for new entrant farmers.
This briefing is aimed at Defra (The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs), but most of these recommendations apply to the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland too.