Farming is arguably the oldest industry in the world, tracing itís origins from the time when the primitive hunters were gradually replaced by farmers producing the first domesticated plants and animals.
Today, farming is a highly mechanised, efficient and in many cases diversified industry, supplying arable and livestock products on a global market. With the Supermarkets now dominant in the retail food sector, farm production is geared to supplying processers and merchants rather than local outlets.
However, farm shops and farmerís markets are gaining in popularity, reflecting many shoppers preference for supporting local producers and enjoying the taste of fresh food in season.
The attractive patchwork countryside which can be enjoyed throughout the U.K. has been fashioned by agriculture over the centuries. Todayís farmer is almost certainly a conservationist, participating in one of several DEFRA schemes designed to enhance the countryside and encourage biodiversity. Although todayís farmer is expected to gain maximum output from his acreage, this is done in a sustainable way with as small a carbon footprint as possible.
As the economics of farming have changed, many farmers have put their assets to other uses in a wide range of diversification projects. Campsites, bed and breakfast, farm shops and tourist projects have sprung up all over the country as land owners seek ways to ensure the survival of their businesses. Today, over 60% of all farms gain a significant part of their income from enterprises unrelated to agriculture.