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 You are in: Special Report: 1999: 09/99: Farming in crisis  
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Farming in crisis Thursday, 16 September, 1999, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Farmers log on to profits
Farmers markets
Farmers' markets are opening across the UK
Farming in crisis
Increasing numbers of farmers are cutting out supermarket middlemen and taking their food straight to the public via new street markets.

The number of farmers' markets across the UK has risen dramatically this year.

Some innovative farmers are also turning to the Internet in an attempt survive as profits from traditional outlets fall.

In April, there were just 30 farmers' markets across the country - now there are 116.

Farmers go on Internet
Some farmers have gone online to sell produce
As ministers consider ways of easing the crisis blighting the industry, it is estimated that three new farmers' markets are opened each week as farmers take matters into their own hands.

A number of farmers have also gone online to sell their produce, which is delivered by parcel straight to customers' homes.

But it is the rise of the farmers' markets, which is making most impression on the industry.

'We can survive'

Markets allow farmers to avoid the cost of selling their produce in supermarkets.

Farmers markets
Markets are keeping some farmers afloat
At Bristol Farmers' Market it is estimated that once farmers have paid for slaughtering and butchering costs they can make 30 more per lamb than they would by selling the animal to supermarkets.

Livestock farmer John Counsell said: "We can sell our lamb cheaper here than the supermarkets can and still make a jolly good living out of it.

"We are getting the premium that the supermarkets have been taking all these years."

"We are taking the middleman's margin which means we can survive."

In order to take a stall at a farmers' market, produce must be local and stalls must be staffed by the farmer or one of their employees.

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The BBC's Tim Hirsch: "A quiet revolution in the food industry"
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