Hedgerow Flailing

Yesterday evening, I drove over to eat with an old friend towards the east of the county…

As I was passing out of Rotherfield I came upon an excellent example of how not to manage a hedge.  It had been Severely flailed – just a neat, box-shaped line of shattered white wood!  I will grant that it was stock-proof but aesthetically it jarringly cried out, ‘What a way to treat a hedge!’  As for its value for the all the wildlife that found it home and as veritable larder for various birds and small mammals well, that has just been wiped out for another 8 months.

Obviously most hedges need managing but not in such a callous way.  It shows a significant degree of arrogance and a lack of understanding of the needs of our hard-pressed wildlife.

10 Years of Saving the Albatross

I have been financially supporting this project since its inception.  Just hope that one day I get to sea albatross in their real environment!

http://www.rspb.org.uk/joinandhelp/donations/campaigns/impact/albatross/marine-champions.aspx

Sea legs and clear heads: the emergence of Marine champions.

Albatross Task Force Programme Manager Oli Yates and Senior Policy Officer Rory Crawford reflect on the first 10 years of the Albatross Task Force.

Wandering Albatross.

Wandering Albatross.

Seabirds are threatened by a variety of pressures. Directly, through being caught on hooks in fisheries, invasive species at nest sites, ingestion of plastic waste, and oil or chemical pollution; plus indirectly via habitat degradation, competition with forage fisheries and climate change. Our understanding of these individual impacts is improving, but their effects are largely unknown. What is known is that the world’s seabird populations are in bad shape. We need to tackle these threats head-on.

The good news is that seabird bycatch in longline and trawl fisheries is preventable. Simple solutions already exist and the Albatross Task Force (ATF) has been successful in developing mitigation measures to reduce the number of seabirds being caught, or bycatch. These measures have been scaled up to achieve fleet-wide reductions in seabird bycatch in South Africa, where the government has supported the adoption of regulations. Several more ATF priority fleets are close to achieving this milestone. Only by reaching and sustaining fleet-wide reduction targets can we hope to turn around the fortunes of threatened albatrosses.

Clear heads are required to ensure sustainable bycatch reductions

Therefore, the role of ATF instructors now combines working on board fishing vessels at sea, and advocating for regulations in governmental meetings. When the same individuals who perform the technical experiments at sea are able to present findings in the political arena, the message is powerful. It’s exactly this mix of sea legs and clear heads that is required to maintain sustainable bycatch reductions in the future.

It’s a rare cocktail of traits that make an effective ATF instructor!

Not everyone is able to do both. In fact it’s a rare cocktail of personal traits that make an effective ATF instructor! Spending time at sea every year is exhausting, both mentally and physically, but our hope from the beginning was that some instructors would stay the course. We’ve been lucky, as whilst we’ve had to say farewell to some great and talented characters, several key members of staff have grown with the project.

On World Oceans Day last month, we celebrated the anniversary of the Albatross Task Force, a decade after the first team in South Africa was launched in 2006. Back then, there were no baseline bycatch estimates for any of our target fisheries, no best practice mitigation measure designs, no fishery regulations requiring these measures to be implemented and, in turn, zero uptake by skippers.

We have come a long way: we now have baseline estimates in all fisheries, best practice mitigation measures are well defined and regulations are in place in seven out of ten of our original target fisheries.

The ATF model will help bring prospective industry partners on board.  That doesn’t mean the job is done. We still have to ensure all vessels in all fleets adopt mitigation measures and support national observer agencies to develop effective seabird bycatch monitoring. In recent years, we’ve also identified an additional six fleets that are affecting seabirds, particularly albatrosses.

Through the BirdLife International Marine Programme, we’re starting on the long road to develop effective measures for gill-net fisheries, which kill 400,000 seabirds per year, and purse seine fisheries, where we’re only just starting to understand bycatch levels. However, through the Task Force we are building on the foundations of successful collaborative work with industry and government to improve the fortunes of seabirds. Having the ATF model in place gives us a compelling story to tell to prospective industry partners in new fisheries, encouraging future collaborations.

Further, this experience has created opportunities to work toward tackling many of the other threats in the marine environment. Our ATF instructors are emerging Marine Champions in their countries, and provide a source of great hope for a more sustainable future for some astounding birds and the healthy habitats they rely on.

Research to Improve Breeding Success of Corn Buntings

http://www.rspb.org.uk/joinandhelp/donations/campaigns/impact/hopefarm/fat-birds-farm.aspx?utm_source=impactsummer2016&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=impacttherspblodge

Fat birds of the barley at RSPB’s Hope Farm.  June 2016.

Hope Farm manager Ian Dillon reports on the work we’re doing to give a home to corn buntings on the farm.

cornbunting_tcm9-421859

Since the RSPB bought Hope Farm in 2000, we’ve had considerable success in increasing the numbers of some otherwise declining species of farmland birds.

But of all the resident farmland birds in the UK, we’ve struggled with corn buntings. Corn buntings have suffered enormous declines in recent decades, and they’re now absent from large swathes of the country.

The reasons for this seem to be different in different areas. In some places it may be a lack of food over winter. In other places it may be because nests are being destroyed through farming activities.

Elsewhere, it may be that nesting success is low due to a lack of insect food or high predation rates.

RSPB conservation scientists have been studying the reasons behind their declines in East Anglia for many years. They’ve been looking at how to improve nesting success when the corn buntings nest in the cereal crops. They’ve found that corn buntings like to nest in denser parts of the crop where there is some ground vegetation.

Often these areas occur close to field edges, where nests are at risk from predators. So we will trial deliberately planting strips of barley at double the normal density within the normal crop. These dense strips will be well away from the field edges. We’re hoping this means more nests will be successful.

Hopefully some of the corn buntings that spent the winter at Hope Farm will have stayed and will be using these experimental strips and we will have another success to report to you.

Resisting the Tyranny of the Tidy Hedge

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/01/help-birds-untidy-hedges-helping-protect-declining-bird-species?CMP=share_btn_tw

Help the birds – resist the tyranny of the tidy hedge

Patrick Barkham, Monday 1 August 2016.

Though farmers are annoyed by the environment department’s hedge-cutting restrictions, they help our later-nesting birds

black

Blackbirds are among the birds benefiting from a month-long extension of the farmland hedge-cutting ban. Photograph: Mike Lane/Alamy

 

My garden hedge is full of empty nests. The blackbirds have fledged, twice, and so have the dunnocks. Successfully fending off sparrowhawks and cats, their exhausted parents are now enjoying a well-earned holiday. In the fields beyond our home, though, parents still slave away, feeding baby bullfinches, linnets and yellowhammers tucked in the hedges that grace our countryside.

As well as the usual predators, every August these declining species have had to fend off another ravenous monster: the hedge-trimmer. This summer and last, however, the cutting machines are silent because the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has taken an excellent, science-led policy decision: to protect these birds by extending the farmland hedge-cutting ban by a month, to 31 August.

This ban is not responsible for the overgrown lanes vexing rural holidaymakers, because roadside hedges can still be cut for safety reasons (blame austerity for wild roadsides), but it is vexing many farmers. August is a convenient time for hedge-cutting because the ground is dry and the work doesn’t obstruct more important tasks, such as sowing crops.

The science, however, is unequivocal: more than 40,000 nesting records collected by volunteers for the British Trust for Ornithology prove that finches and buntings nest through August. Ground-nesting skylarks and corn buntings are also destroyed by hedge-cutters driving along field margins.

As farmers press to repeal the ban, the wildlife campaigner Mark Avery says its survival will be a test of both the new Defra secretary, Andrea Leadsom, and whether we are in danger of slipping into a post-science era of countryside management.

I hope this wild-hedged August will show farmers that they can save money by cutting back on contractors and help birds, insects and mammals. We need to escape the tyranny of the tidy hedge.

National Trust Calls for Complete Reform of British Farm Subsidies

This is one of several articles I have just posted, all connected with the future of the countryside and farming following the UK decision over Brexit.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/04/national-trust-calls-for-complete-reform-of-british-farm-subsidies?CMP=share_btn_tw

National Trust calls for complete reform of British farm subsidies
pigs

Piglets on a organic farm in Wales, UK  Photograph: Herb Bendicks/Alamy

 

John Vidal, The Guardian, Thursday 4 August 2016.

The National Trust has called for complete reform of the British farm subsidy system after Brexit, by ending payments for owning land and only rewarding farmers who improve the environment and help wildlife.

“The subsidy system is broken. It is not working. Farmers are going out of business. The state of wildlife is in steep decline and large parts of that is because of intensive agriculture. The vote to leave the EU allows us to think radically about the future of the entire system,” the trust’s director general, Dame Helen Ghosh, told the Guardian ahead of a speech at Blenheim Palace on Thursday.

“Taxpayers should only pay public subsidy to farmers in return for things that the market won’t pay for but which are valued and needed by the public. The current system rewards people for the hectares they own, with very inadequate standards for wildlife and the environment,” she said.

“In the long run there’s no conflict between maintaining our ability to grow food and looking after the land and nature on which it depends. The first is utterly dependent on the second.”

The proposals by the trust, which calls itself “Britain’s largest farmer” and is one of the biggest recipients of European common agriculture policy (CAP) payments, would see the basic income support system of subsidies scrapped and farmers being paid out of public funds only for environmental services such as flood prevention, wildlife and nature protection.

“It is essential to act now as 60% of species have declined in the UK over the last 50 years. Habitats, breeding grounds and food sources have been lost, soils have become depleted and natural fertility impoverished,” Ghosh will tell a BBC Countryfile conference.

“This has happened in large part due to the industrialised farming methods incentivised by successive funding regimes since the second world war. So it is not the fault of farmers but the fault of the system which is flawed and expensive,” she will say.

The biggest farms currently receive the biggest cheques but they often do the most harm to the environment. A new system could swing subsidies towards small farmers, benefiting those who protect soils and rivers, she said.

“Unless we make different choices, we will leave an environment that is less productive, less rich and less beautiful than that which we inherited,” she said.

The EU pays British farmers up to £3bn a year, of which around 20%, or £600m, is paid to farmers to protect the environment. The trust, which owns 618,000 acres of land and has about 2,000 tenants and 4 million members, received £3m in direct subsidy from CAP last year and £8m for environmental stewardship schemes. All the money was spent on conservation, it said.

Ghosh said she did not expect the price of food to automatically increase with the elimination of subsidies for land ownership. “The price of food is already affected by the global market. Only about 8p of the price of a loaf of bread is the cost of the wheat that it is made from. The link between the subsidy system and the price of food is not absolute.”

She said that many upland National Trust farmers already managed their land for the benefit of nature and landscape rather than for food production. Renewable energy, flood protection services and eco-tourism could pay more than subsidies.

Ghosh envisaged a phase-out period during which farmers would continue to receive payments for land ownership. “It cannot be done overnight. It is not clear yet when the current subsidy system will phase out. But all interested parties are asking for it to remain until 2025,” she said.

“We may need some kind of transition period to get there but that means payments for goods that go beyond food production – for the wildflowers, bees and butterflies that we love, for the farmland birds, now threatened, for the water meadows and meandering rivers that will help prevent the flooding of our towns, and for the rebuilding of the fertility and health of the soils on which both nature and production depend.”

Ghosh laid out six principles of farming and conservation which she said should apply in the new, post-Brexit system:

  1. Public money must only pay for public goods. There will need to be a transition to the new world but this basic income support payment should be removed.
  2. It should be unacceptable to harm nature but easy to help it. In the future, 100% of any public payment should be conditional on meeting higher standards of wildlife, soil and water stewardship.
  3. Nature should be abundant everywhere. The new system needs to support nature in the lowlands as well as the uplands.
  4. We need to drive better outcomes for nature. Nature needs joined up habitats on a landscape scale with subsidies implemented on a farm-by-farm basis.
  5. Farmers that deliver the most public benefit should get the most. In the future, those farmers and land managers who get the most public money should be those who deliver the best environmental outcomes.
  6. We must invest in science, new technology and new markets that help nature. Public money should help create ways of farming that benefit nature and help develop new markets to reward farmer for storing carbon, preventing floods and promoting biodiversity.

The National Farmers Union, with around 47,000 farmers, is consulting all its members before proposing a future domestic agriculture policy.

But its president, Meurig Raymond, rejected Ghosh’s proposals: “The picture the National Trust is trying to paint – that of a damaged countryside – is one that neither I nor most farmers, or visitors to the countryside, will recognise.”

He added: “We should not be contemplating doing anything which will undermine British farming’s competitiveness or its ability to produce food. To do so would risk exporting food production out of Britain and for Britain to be a nation which relies even further on imports to feed itself. In our view, food security should be considered to be a legitimate political goal and public good.”

Ross Murray, president of the Country Land and Business Association, said he was: “concerned by the Trust’s vision for a policy that sets solely environmental objectives. Only a profitable farming sector present throughout our countryside will ensure we have the people, the resource and the experience to deliver the environmental improvements the Trust rightly seeks to achieve. The policy that replaces the CAP must provide support for productive farming.”

Brexit Could Herald End to British Fruit and Veg Production?

This is one of several articles I have just posted, all connected with the future of the countryside and farming following the UK decision over Brexit.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/03/brexit-could-herald-end-to-british-fruit-and-veg-sales-producers-warn?CMP=share_btn_tw

Brexit could herald end to British fruit and veg sales, producers warn.

lettuce

Foreign workers harvesting lettuce in the Lincolnshire Fens. Photograph: Tim Scrivener/REX/Shutterstock

 

Damian Carrington, The Guardian, Wednesday 3 August 2016.

British fruit and vegetables would all but vanish from shops if Brexit means the foreign workers who pick virtually all the home-grown produce are no longer able to come to the UK, according to some of the country’s biggest producers.

They warn that the nation’s food security would be damaged and that produce in UK shops would become more expensive if the freedom of movement for EU workers came to an end. They are urging ministers to set up a new permit scheme for seasonal workers.

Without a scheme, they say production would move abroad, where many already have large operations, or would switch to cereals which are harvested by machines. The Brexit vote is already deterring foreign workers from coming to the UK, the producers report.

About 90% of British fruit, vegetables and salads are picked, graded and packed by 60,000 to 70,000 workers from overseas, mostly from eastern Europe. Many of these work in areas which voted very strongly to leave the EU: the largely agricultural borough of Boston in Lincolnshire had the highest vote for leaving the EU in the whole country, at 75%.

“If we don’t have freedom of movement and they don’t replace it with a permit scheme then the industry will just close down” in the UK, said John Shropshire, chairman of G’s, one of the nation’s biggest producers of salads and vegetables, which employs 2,500 seasonal workers and also has farms in Spain, Poland, the Czech Republic and Senegal. “No British person wants a seasonal job working in the fields. They want permanent jobs or jobs that are not quite as taxing physically.”

“The government has to make a decision: either we bring the people to the work or we take the work to the people,” he told the Guardian. “The government has to decide does it want [the UK] to produce food or not – that is their decision.”

Angus Davison, chairman at Haygrove, a major berry and cherry producer, employing 800 seasonal workers, said that without them their growing would be exported: “We would move it to the continent. We wouldn’t be able to operate here in the UK because we would not be able to harvest the crops.” Half of Haygrove’s production is already in Portugal and South Africa.

“Do you want all your fresh produce to come from foreign countries?” he asked. “There would be more risks around its security, we wouldn’t be as food secure as a nation.” Davison said his company had 15 workers a day applying to its offices in Romania and Bulgaria before the Brexit referendum, but this has dropped now to one or two: “We are genuinely concerned. People over there are feeling they are not wanted here.”

More than 98% of those coming to the UK through a previous Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme returned home. It ran from 1948 to 2013, when Theresa May as home secretary scrapped it. Davison said: “Seasonal workers for harvesting crops are not migrants. They come here to do a job and they go away again.” Davison and other producers told the Guardian their existing seasonal staff had been very unsettled by the Brexit vote and that there was a moral duty for the government to clarify their future status.

The UK produces only half of the fresh produce it eats, but despite consumers wanting more British-grown fruit, vegetables and salad, the investment to increase the nation’s self-sufficiency is at risk if seasonal workers are not available, said Chris Mack, chairman at Fresca Group, another major producer whose businesses include five huge salad greenhouses at Thanet in Kent, where 64% of voters backed leaving the EU.

“We were hoping to build the sixth [greenhouse], but unless we have the people to go and pick the tomatoes, it’s difficult to see how we are going to do that,” he said. The introduction of the national living wage was already causing fruit and vegetable producers, who do not receive EU subsidies, to move to lower cost countries, Mack said: “If there is a further issue around the availability of labour, moving your fields overseas will be almost be the only option.”

Mack also said shoppers will be hit in the pocket if Brexit negotiations lead to no freedom of movement and no access to the single EU market: “There will be less access to fresh produce and prices will inevitably then go up.”

It is not just major producers who are concerned about the availability of seasonal workers. Erica Consterdine, from the University of Sussex’s Centre for Migration Research, said: “What is absolutely certain is that, without foreign labour, there are going to be massive labour market shortages. I’m not sure the government quite realises just how reliant these sectors are on EU labour.”

“It’s looking pretty bad in terms of the security of the food supply chain. It would be disastrous,” she said. “I can’t really see how the industry can survive in the long term without freedom of movement of workers, without reintroducing some kind of agricultural workers scheme. Economically, looking at the sector, it seems absolutely crazy not to.”

A government spokesperson said: “Nothing is changing overnight – freedom of movement remains in place while we are in the EU. The public clearly demanded control over immigration in the EU referendum and that is what we are going to deliver, but it will take some time. There will clearly be challenges to overcome in our negotiations to leave the EU, but Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it.”

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is undertaking its largest ever consultation with its members after Brexit, with the issue of seasonal labour a key element. “There is a huge threat to an extremely important sector of British farming,” said Meurig Raymond, NFU president. “How often did we hear from the leave campaigners that we wanted to see more controlled immigration? The seasonal workers scheme was a controlled system.”

Attempts to recruit British workers for seasonal work have failed, farmers told the Guardian. Those willing to take temporary jobs opt for hospitality and other sectors, while others sent by unemployment offices rarely last a week, they said.

“I know one or two companies that have gone to very significant lengths to set up a supply of UK labour and it just hasn’t worked,” said Jack Ward, chief executive of the British Growers Association. “I think it is probably the outdoor nature of the work.” Consterdine said a pilot scheme from the Department of Work and Pensions had been “totally unsuccessful”.

The fresh produce industry is not the only farming sector warning of the risks of losing migrant workers. “If the central and eastern Europeans went back to their native countries then dairy farming would be in dire straits,” said Tim Brigstocke, policy director at the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers.

Roger Kelsey, a former butcher and now chief executive of the National Federation of Meat & Food Traders, said the UK meat industry was heavily reliant on labour from overseas: “It would not survive without them. Go into any abattoir or meat processing factory in the east of England – or anywhere in the UK – and you will see Polish and Portuguese workers helping the slaughtermen and doing what are seen as the unpleasant jobs, such as evisceration.” Even the vets employed by the Food Standards Agency are overwhelmingly – 98% – from the from EU nations.

All these sectors supply the UK’s biggest manufacturing sector: food and drink. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) says its 7,000 member businesses employ 130,000 people from eastern Europe – more than a quarter of entire workforce. “If we are to remain competitive, we need urgent reassurance for the EU nationals working in the UK food and drink manufacturing sector and continuing unhindered access to workers from the EU,” said Ian Wright, FDF director general recently.

John Hardman, at the agricultural employment agency HOPS Labour Solutions, told the Farmers Guardian he was not optimistic that avoiding the loss of seasonal workers was high in government priorities: “We may only just start to move up that list when we cannot pick all of the strawberries for Wimbledon or Brussels sprouts for Christmas.”

Shropshire is more confident however: “I just can’t believe it will happen. “It would be a great shame for the country to export a large chunk of the British fresh produce industry.”

Laurence Olins, chairman of industry group British Summer Fruits, recently sent a letter and a large tray of fresh strawberries, raspberries and other berries to the new environment and home secretaries, Andrea Leadsom and Amber Rudd: “I sent the tray so they could actually taste them and see what they would be missing.”

A Framework for British Agricultural Policy – The LWA

This is one of several articles I have just posted, all connected with the future of the countryside and farming following the UK decision over Brexit.

http://landworkersalliance.org.uk/2016/08/more-farmers-better-food-a-framework-for-british-agricultural-policy/#more-41587

More Farmers, Better Food – A framework for British Agricultural Policy

The UK’s small-scale, ecological and family farms are at the heart of our rural culture and communities; they create employment, protect cherished landscapes and provide a huge amount of the food we eat. However, in the past, the UK’s farming strategies have undermined domestic production of healthy, affordable food and left many small farms unfairly disadvantaged in the market place.

The task of creating a post-Brexit ‘British Agricultural Policy’ that support producers, protects the environment and prioritizes access to healthy, nutritious food for all is a complex but essential one. It represents a great opportunity if the Government is ready to listen to the needs of all stakeholders and put in place a truly long-term plan for environmental, social and economic resilience.

tractor

In order to contribute to this debate, The Landworkers’ Alliance proposes 8 points that we believe must be integral to forthcoming policy. Over the next 6 months we will carry out an in-depth consultation among our members to draw up a more comprehensive policy proposal that addresses the needs of food producers in the UK. We will also work with other organizations to draw up a framework for a ‘Peoples’ Food Policy’ that can address the systemic inequalities and misguided policies currently afflicting the food and farming sectors.

 

  1. Focus on National Food Security:

Leaving the EU puts UK food security at a greater risk. We produce less than 60% of the food we consume[1], rely on the EU for almost 30% of our food imports[2] and hold only 3–5 days of food reserves[3]. Post-Brexit, increases in the price of imports, shortages of farm labor and a more volatile market will make this situation worse.

Food and agricultural policy should focus on reclaiming sovereignty over food security by increasing national self reliance. This should be premised on:

Increasing domestic production to replace imports where possible.

Protection of British producers from imports, especially from countries with lower labor, environmental and welfare standards, and cheaper costs of production.

Preferential procurement of British produce by public services and private retailers.

A long term plan for a more self-reliant future.

 

2  Direct public money to affordable food and good farming.

Area based payments are an inherently flawed form of subsidy because they directly undermine the ability of small, medium-scale and family farmers to compete with large scale industrial producers. They also do not effectively target end-results for the public good.

Post-Brexit farm support should guarantee access to healthy, affordable food for everyone, environmental sutainability and animal welfare, along with fair remuneration for producers. To achieve this, all payments should be directly linked to the three key pillars of sustainability:

Economic – The production of healthy affordable food.

Environment and animal welfare – The protection of traditional forms of land management, environmental sustainability and animal welfare

Social – Maintenance of farmers and agricultural workers livelihoods, decent work conditions and community access to agriculture.

In order to maintain a diversity of farm sizes and types, whilst limiting land concentration, all payments must also be reliant on a strict active farmer clause, weighted towards the first 40ha and subject to a cap on individual payments to any one farmer.

In addition, targeted support should focus on re-localising production, supporting new entrants and developing ecological agriculture.

 

3  End the discrimination against small farms.

It is unjustifiable for Defra to continue to discriminate against small farms in the allocation of subsidies and collection of farm data when there is plenty of evidence that small farms support more jobs and produce more food per ha than larger farms while providing important environmental, economic and cultural benefits.

Post-Brexit policy must recognize the role of small farms by reintroducing a minimum claim area of 1ha

National statistics should collect data on farms from 1 – 5ha and 5 -20ha for the annual agriculture in the UK report.

 

4  Create and maintain decent jobs in farming.

A lack of EU labour and the need to increase national food production will lead to increasing demand for more farmers and agricultural workers. Defra should seize this opportunity to create good jobs in agriculture by monitoring and improving agricultural work pay and conditions, support new entrants and young farmers, providing capital support to new entrants. This should be delivered through 4 channels:

A new-entrants and young farmers scheme – Including top up payments and capital grants to address barriers including access to land, capital, markets and education. This should be universally available – not solely available to families already receiving direct payments, as is currently the case.

An agricultural workers scheme – Including the reintroduction of a robust agricultural wages board to monitor work conditions and pay.

A job creation scheme – Focused on education and training to encourage more people into agricultural work.

A land access scheme – To actively enlarge the county farm estate and reintroduce holdings specifically oriented to horticulture with associated accommodation.

 

5  Improve environmental and welfare standards.

Environmental and welfare standards must be protected and made a mandatory condition for public support to farmers. Decisions should be made on sound, peer-reviewed science, rooted in the precautionary principle. This should include:

Mandatory method-of-production labeling on all meat, dairy, and eggs and clearly displayed pesticide residue data on all crop derived products.

A moratorium on live export of animals destined for slaughter.

A moratorium on the development of factory farms and mega dairies.

A robust plan to reduce antibiotic dependence in farming.

A moratorium on the use of GMO, glyphosate and neonicitinoids unless proven safe beyond doubt.

A ban on husbandry systems that do not enable animals to express their natural behaviors and rely on routine mutilations.

 

6  Invest in farmer-led research for resilient solutions.

Public money must be directed towards research and development into the issues facing farmers of all scales. The thrust of research should focus on ways in which farmers can use low-cost, knowledge-intensive solutions rather than expensive inputs.

 

A cross-sector farmers voice in public spending on agricultural R&D.

The introduction of a farmer-led extension program focusing on low-input solutions.

The precautionary principle must remain central to risk assessment on new agricultural technologies and chemicals.

 

7  Build markets that work for farmers.

The most important way to maintain our food and farming system is to ensure that farmers can earn a fair livelihood from good production. We want a market system that fosters domestic production of healthy and affordable food. This should be premised on:

Improving farmers position in the supply chain by limiting the power of retailers – progressive regulation to maintain affordable food for consumers and fair prices for buyers.

Development of short supply chains – investment in the local food infrastructure and the development of territorial markets and public procurement.

A ban on imports produced to lower labor, environmental, welfare standards than in the UK. Tarrifs should be applied to imports to prevent the undercutting of domestically produced food.

 

8  Democratize agricultural policy making:

Public opinion and civil society must have a more significant weight in agricultural policy with mechanisms created for structured and regular dialogue between all organizations representing farmers and agricultural workers.

The introduction of public consultation on contentious issues such as licenses for GM crops, glyphosate and neonicatinoids

Increased transparency within government by creating a public datebase of individuals within each department and the process by which policy is formulated.

The creation of a cross-departmental national food and farming policy.

 

[1] Defra. Agriculture in the UK 2015. London: Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, 2016.

[2] Defra, Food Statistics Pocketbook 2015. 2015, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: London.

[3] Lang, T. Food and Brexit. City University. June 27 2016

 

The LWA is an official member of the international peasant farming movement La Via Campesina which represents 200 million small-scale producers around the world. We campaign for the rights of small-scale producers and lobby the UK government and European parliament for policies that support the infrastructure and markets central to our livelihoods.