Sam Burton

Project | A Farmer & His Dogs

Project Statement:


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 onthe horizon, and the uncertainty delivered by the prolonged Brexit discussions, agriculture as an industry (within the UK) will almost certainly have to adapt to a new socio-political environment.

The work portrays this farmer’s struggles to maintain a livelihood within that 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 site that 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 particular farmer, reflecting that his situation is not inherently unique to himself, but is now a position recognisable across the country.



Referring to the old adage ‘A farmer and his dog’, the title for this work is a
play on the traditions of agriculture and farming, alluding to the ways in
which this farmer has adapted his practice. As this diversification process becomes more
widespread, and tradition begins to lose its hold in an increasingly modernised
industry; it seemed fitting to adapt the old saying into the title for this ‘pilot’ series.

I am currently working to expand this series into a larger, broader work covering more issues within the agricultral industry as a whole - keep your eyes peeled for more or get in touch if you think you can help!

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