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Internet reconnects West Midlands farmers with public – Euro-MP

February 10, 2003 12:00 AM

West Midlands Euro-MP Liz Lynne has welcomed a report by the National Farmer's Union which highlights how farmers are increasingly using the internet to open up new markets.

The report shows that 83% of farmers now use the internet - an increase of 21% since November 2001. 10% of farmers now use the internet to sell produce, something that was virtually unheard of 5 years ago. The total value of produce and goods sold on the internet is now approximately £325 million nationwide, and widely expected to grow.

While a large proportion of these internet sales is down to tourism - holiday cottages and bed and breakfast accommodation - a number of farms are selling plants and food online as well.

Commenting on the report, which was a topic of conversation Liz discussed at the NFU Warwickshire AGM last month, the Liberal Democrat MEP said:

"The farming industry is often caricatured as backward looking, yet these figures show farmers are finding increasingly innovative ways of finding new business."

"The internet can help farmers get in touch with tourists from around the world, and customers from around the village. We shouldn't get carried away with ourselves and pretend this is the answer to the deep underlying problems of British farming. But with relatively cheap set up costs and no middle man, such sales could give West Midlands farmers a much needed boost at a time when they sorely need it."