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  The changing countryside
Updated 19 September 2002, 17.09

Citizenship PSHE 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Economic globalisation

Fox hunting makes the headlines but global competition could really change the UK countryside and its farmers.

Learning aims

  • Changes in the UK countryside
  • How globalising agriculture changes our rural environment and its population
Read out the report Kids prepare for countryside march.

Find out what the group knows about the countryside

Print and hand out the worksheet above or read out the questions. Below are explanations of each of the answers.

Farmers are making more money than they did four years ago
[1] False: Farm incomes have dropped substantially. A 50% fall is not uncommon. Prices for farm produce have gone down and the price of fuel and fertilizer has gone up.

Some of the chicken meat you buy in Britain comes from Brazil
[2] True: Britain is now more open to foreign food imports. Chicken also comes from Thailand. This increased competition has helped lower prices.

Chicken farms in Brazil have the same rules as farms in Britain
[3] False: Animal welfare is less regulated outside the UK. This adds costs to UK farmers that makes it harder to compete. This is a big complaint from UK farmers.

There are more jobs in the countryside than there were four years ago
[4] True: The rate of job growth in rural areas is higher than in urban areas. The countryside is not dying, it is doing very well, but the new jobs are not in farming.

Most people in the countryside work on farms
[5] False: This is no longer the case. Rural employment is now pretty diverse. Many rural dwellers work in urban areas. Rural tourism is worth 12 billion pounds a year.

The number of people living in the countryside is rising
[6] True: People continue to move in large numbers from city to country. This causes house price inflation that farm workers can not compete with. If competition with food imports lowers farm incomes the problem gets worse.

Houses in the countryside are cheaper than houses in towns and cities
[7] False: The average price of a house in the countryside is 15% higher than in towns.

So many country pubs have shut that there are now fewer than when William the Conqueror invaded
[8] True: 6 pubs shut every week. There are many causes but high overheads and low incomes mean many pubs are worth more as homes than businesses.

Wheat from Canada is cheaper than wheat from the UK
[9] True: Mechanisation brings down the cost of production. Canadian farmers have big fields that suit the machines. We have Hedgerows that look nice but get in the way.

Main activity
A poster showing the costs and benefits of opening up Britain's farmers to the global marketplace.

Use a piece of A4 or A3 paper in landscape. Draw a vertical line to split the page in two. On the left place costs and on the right benefits.

On each side add sketches and labels. Below are some prompts.


  • Lower food bills for shoppers
  • Helps development in the third world
  • Competition encourages people to develop new products
  • The 3 billion subsidy to agriculture could be spent on something else
  • It is fairer - hardworking farmers should be able to sell their food wherever people want to buy it
  • British farmers will lose their jobs
  • Animal welfare will not be regulated in other countries
  • People will stop farming in many parts of the UK - open countryside will be planted as forest
  • Britain will not be able to feed itself in a time of war
  • It is unfair - British farmers must look after animals and the countryside more carefully than their competitors

Extension activity
Write a letter to a UK farmer explaining why she must learn to compete in a global market.


Write a letter to a third world farmer explaining why we will not be allowing open access to our market for his food imports.

Explain that coal mining and shipbuilding disappeared as major industries due to global competition. What will happen to farming?

Teachers' Background

  • 1.2 million jobs have been created in rural areas of England and Wales since 1980 - a growth of 22%.

  • Between 1991 and 1997 an average of 90,000 people a year moved from the main cities to the countryside.

  • Under 2% of the national workforce is employed in agriculture. But Agriculture uses 75% of the nations land. A small change to the industry could mean a large change to the countryside.

  • Agriculture employs 550,000 people, rural tourism provides 380,000 jobs.

  • In 2000/01 CAP subsidy to farming was over 3 billion. 10% of this was for environmental payments.

  • Nearly 60% of rural households have no bus service.

  • More rural workers are on the minimum wage than urban workers.

  • The number of people employed in agriculture fell by 6% in 2000.

  • Farm gate prices have fallen by 30% since 1996

For all links and resources click at top right.

More InfoBORDER=0
Find OutGuide to the countryside
VoteShould fox hunting be banned?


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Countryside Alliance homepage
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