'Act now on threat to farms'

JANUARY 2008: The rising cost of animal feed due to poor global harvests and growingcompetition from bio-fuels means that many farmers are being forced tosell their livestock at a loss, it is claimed.

A Taste of Sussex, the food and drinkdivision of Sussex Enterprise, believes that we must act now in orderto prevent our local farmers from going out of business. “Centuries offarming have produced the Sussex landscape that we all know and love,”said Hilary Knight, co-ordinator of A Taste of Sussex. “Thecontribution of agriculture to the local economy may have decreasedover time but nevertheless, farmers still play a significant role inmaintaining the security of our food supplies, to the countryside, theenvironment and the fabric of rural life."Like many parts of the UK, the number of livestock bred in Sussex hasbeen on a gentle, but steady, decline for at least the past threeyears. The industry has suffered several bad years in succession andlooks unlikely to recover unless increased costs are passed on to theconsumer. Whilst there are many things that can be done to increaseefficiency, nothing can be done to reduce feed costs. BPEX (the British Pig Executive) has recently launched a very highprofile media campaign to highlight the fact that the increase requiredby Pig farmers to stay in business in between 7p and 17p more per packof bacon, pork, sausages and ham. The problem facing the lamb and beefindustries are similar. According to a recent You Gov survey, theBritish public are in general support for the price rises; 78% would behappy to pay more, while 67% prefer home grown meat over imports.