All over Europe, for a long time there has been a trend towards larger, monoculture farms and industrial agriculture. Smaller farms have been swallowed up and farmers have been leaving the land in their millions. In recent years, however, we have seen the shoots of a new movement. Consumers have become much more interested in local, organic food for a variety of reasons – food quality, supporting local economies, environmental protection, animal welfare and a desire to support small-scale farming rather than the giant, supermarket-driven, industrial and chemical agriculture that is depopulating the countryside and eroding soil. This kind of agriculture cannot continue. Either we replace it with mixed, organic smallholdings (which produce more food per acre anyway), or our soil will become so depleted that we will be forced to import more and more of our food.
The Landworkers’ Alliance is at the heart of this movement towards a smaller-scale, sustainable agriculture, and this spring is a crucial time for developing a post-Brexit policy for the future of British agriculture. There is support from all political parties for a new type of agriculture, with more farmers and more and smaller farms producing quality food for local markets. You can help the LWA to influence this process. Over to Dee.
More Farmers, Better Food crowdfunding campaign
As some of you may know, the Landworkers’ Alliance launched a crowdfunding campaign in late December called ‘More Farmers, Better Food’, link here: https://tinyurl.com/yanu
This will define the future of agriculture in the U.K. It is the most significant moment in generations and it is absolutely urgent that we ensure we continue have a place at the decision making tables and that our voices and livelihoods are represented. However trying to raise money through public fundraising platforms for national political campaigns can quite often be tricky. The goals of lobbying and campaigning may seem untenable and the results and victories not immediately obvious.
But the Landworkers’ Alliance have been working very hard over the past 18 months to develop our post-Brexit Agriculture policy positions and lobby MPs and government departments. We have made an astronomical amount of headway but are going to need to pull out all the stops this year, which really is one of the most pivotal moments of a generation, to influence the future of British farming policy and advocate for a fair food system in the UK. We have outlined our policy proposals and campaign goals for 2018, and what we will do with the money we raise from our crowdfunding campaign here: https://tinyurl.com/yanu
Why are we raising funds for our campaign ‘More Farmers, Better Food’?
In the spring of 2018 the future of our farming system is going to be decided in a new post-Brexit Agriculture Policy. This will define the future of agriculture in the U.K. It is the most significant moment in generations and it is absolutely urgent that we ensure we have a place at the decision making tables.
Now, more than ever, the Landworkers’ Alliance need to use all the energy and resources we have to influence this policy making process and make sure our voices are heard, our livelihoods defended and that a fair food system for all is guaranteed. In order to make this happen we need your help.
Why do we need to be part of shaping a post-Brexit Agriculture Policy?
- In the 10 years following the 2003 CAP reform 35,000 small scale and family farmers closed down in the UK.
- 64% of farmers earn less than £10,000 a year, 8 supermarkets control almost 95% of the food retail market, and farmers receive less than 10% of the value of their produce sold in supermarkets.
- Working in the food and farming sector is characterised by insecure, precarious and unpredictable labour conditions.
- We have one the highest levels of concentrated land ownership in the world, and the price of land has trebled in just over 10 years.
- There is hardly any support for new entrant farms or funding for farmers producing on less than 5 hectares (12 acres) of land.
- In 2015, just 100 landowners received a combined total of £87.9m in agricultural subsidies, of which £61.2m came from the single payment scheme. This is more than the combined total paid to the bottom 55, 119 recipients in the single payment scheme over the same period.
- The UK is the 6th largest economy in the world and yet in 2014, over 8.4 million people living in UK household reported having insufficient food.
It’s urgent we make sure a post-Brexit Agricultural Policy turns these trends around.
We want to see power put back in the hands of producers and local communities rather than supermarkets and industrial processors. We believe that farmers and communities must be at the heart of decision-making and have a strong voice in agricultural policy making.
The Landworkers’ Alliance stands for a food system where everybody has access to healthy, regionally produced, affordable food from farmers they can trust. A post-Brexit Agriculture policy must guarantee the wellbeing of people, the health of the environment and the ability of future generations to provide for themselves.
What are the Landworkers’ Alliance policy proposals for a post-Brexit Agriculture Policy?
We have developed a range of comprehensive policy proposals for a post-Brexit Agriculture policy including for small scale, traditional and family farms to be protected; an end to the Area Based Payment Scheme and ecological farming to be properly rewarded; and support for new entrants going into farming.
All of our policies and representation comes from our members who are farmers, growers and land-based workers who have direct experience of the issues we campaign on.
How are we going to make our policy proposals a reality and what will we do with the money from this crowdfunder in 2018?
1. Continue to deliver the political training sessions, developed over past year, to empower Landworkers’ Alliance members to advocate for a better food system.
2. Over the next year, send Landworkers’ Alliance representatives to Westminster on a regular basis to make sure the voices of agribusiness don’t dominate.
3. Write, print and get our post-Brexit Agriculture policy proposals into the hands of political decision makers.
4. Organise stunts and actions that ensure our voices are heard.
5. Highlight our issues by organising study tours of innovative farms, direct marketing and new entrant initiatives for MPs and civil servants.
Now more than ever the future of our land, farms and food is in our hands. This is the moment to take action. Please join us.
The Landworkers’ Alliance are members of La Via Campesina, the international farmers union and work in solidarity with our fellow small-scale farmers and land workers across the globe.
The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's
1Daniel Scharf January 21st, 2018
The latest posts on http://www.dantheplan.blogspot.com refer to the 2018 ORFC and then to a planning appeal that shows what can be achieved by determined (and fortunate) individuals, despite a generally suspicious and unsympathetic planning system. We must hope that the work of the LWA will result in systemic change.