What’s it like being a UK livestock farmer in the early 2020s?

In autumn 2022, I worked with a group of farmers to explore questions around sustainability, using a method called Photovoice. Scattered as they were around England and Wales, we met over Zoom to practise smartphone photography and discuss the photos they took. As we got to know each other, we delved deeper into a range of topics such as family life on the farm, how farming interacts with nature, challenges faced by new entrants to farming, and relationships between humans and animals. An over-arching theme was the disconnect that they felt between their world, and the worlds of people outside the farming community.

Seeking to bridge this divide between farmers and non-farmers, we collectively decided to share some of their photos and captions publicly. With this website, we hope to spark conversations and promote curiosity. Livestock farming is often at the centre of polarised debates, and this project seeks to provide a gentle reminder of the human stories of people working on family farms.

Most of the group are small or medium scale farmers, operating pasture-based systems where animals are kept outside for most or all of the year, and so do not claim to be representative of all UK farming. Most participants own their own land, so we don’t explore specific issues faced by tenant farmers. Some participants are very active on social media, while others are cautious about having an online presence, and participate in other forms of public engagement.

To learn more about how this project fits into my PhD research, feel free to contact me.

Best wishes,

Philippa Simmonds
PhD Researcher