27 February 2003
Farmers are increasingly cutting out the middleman and selling their goods and services direct to consumers on the Internet.
A National Farmers' Union (NFU) study of 1,000 farmers found that eight out of 10 are hooked up to the Internet, a rise of a third in the past year.
Farmers mostly use the web for research and banking. But 10 per cent use it to sell produce and services and 15 per cent use it to buy goods such as pesticide, fertilisers and machinery.
"We fully expect this to rise," said an NFU spokesperson. "The problem has been that farmers are at the bottom of the supply chain and their margins get squeezed."
The most popular item sold was farm holiday cottages. But plants and shrubs, pig meat, hay and straw, as well as some vegetables, are gaining importance.
The NFU estimates that around £325 million of goods are now sold on the Internet, at a value of £13,000 per farm.