Sam Burton

A Farmer & His Dogs

This project focuses on one farmer’s relationship with his land, and how he is able to make a living from it. Today, British farming is more strained than ever due to mounting pressures in the face of a competing global economy. With the possibility of economic instability on the horizon, and the uncertainty delivered by the prolonged Brexit discussions, agriculture as an industry (within the UK) will undoubtedly have to adapt to a new socio-political environment.

The work portrays this farmer’s struggles to maintain a livelihood within a radically changing industry. Required to negotiate a sea of DEFRA regulations and subsidisation opportunities, he must constantly assess and change his practice to merely survive. Torn between preserving his identity as a fourth-generation sheep farmer in Lancashire - and being forced to develop innovative new income streams just to make ends meet - he must constantly diversify.

Consequently, he has become more an entrepreneur than the traditional notion of a farmer. He works as a sheepdog breeder and trainer and an auctioneer, whilst maintaining a small caravan sitethat also produces clean energy. Diversification at this point, has become necessary. Tracing the contradictions and dilemmas produced by the complexity of his position, this series documents those aspects of his work that help him to survive. The camera furtively avoids identifying this farmer, reflecting that his situation is not inherently unique to him but is now a position recognisable across the country.

© Sam Burton 2020


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