The designation of 2014 by the UN as the International Year of Family Farming is a golden opportunity to reflect on its importance.
That’s the view of Mairéad McGuinness, MEP, who said 90% of labour on farms comes from the family.
“Family farming is not just an economic activity. It provides a unique structure in rural communities,” she said.
“These farming families are very often the drivers of community activity, community development, and community cohesion.”
Ms McGuinness said farming families provide stability in rural communities.
“But sustaining the family farm model needs particular attention in an era of relentless pressure for lower priced food in supermarkets and demands for higher delivery in terms of environmental protection and climate actions.
“Family farming will only be sustained if young people see farming as an attractive career choice and where they feel that wider society respects their choice and continues to support their model of agriculture,” she said.
Ms McGuinness said thankfully there is a renewed awareness of and respect for those who throughout the seasons and the generations produce the food we eat. “We’re seeing a revival of interest among young people in agriculture and this is positive.”
She added: “It would be impossible to replace the family farm structure with any other structure — a living countryside with farms operated by families is essential for food production and the provision of environmental goods and services.”
She said she hoped 2014 would be the year in which consumers realised how important family farms are and that this role would be supported in public policy and market trends.
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