January 14th, 2021 Newsletter

Agri-industry Vs. Agro-ecology

🐷 A Pigs Life!

Today we launch the first in a 6-part series portraying the life of pigs. We will be sharing weekly pictures and pig poems by oil painter and collage artist Harriet Clark. If we all bought pork with a high welfare label – we could close factory farms!!

On a free range farm,our lives are sweet
So please us when you buy your meat
Listen to our Pig voices
The shopper has choices
Stop buying pork from factory farms today
Only buy pork with labels that say
Outdoor, RSPCA Assured, organic or free range
In this way we can all make a big change
For us pigs, this would be most satisfactory
To close forever, the pig factories

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📢 Compassion in World farming – call to action

When the UK left the EU on the 31st of December, sentient animals lost their legal protection. Compassion in World Farming are asking people to send this template letter to their MP to say that The UK Government urgently needs to introduce new laws to recognise animals are sentient beings, who can feel pain and joy. How can we change the factory farming system if animals are not recognised as sentient beings?

Factory farming has increased by 26% in 6 years, and now 73% of farmed animals in the UK are kept in factory farms. Is there a factory farm in your area? Check out this map to see and let us know if there are any people living nearby who want to speak to us on camera about the impact of the factory farm on their lives. Please include any of the workers in the farms particularly if they are ‘cheap migrant labourers’ from Eastern Europe. Their story of exploitation in Germany is graphically described in the FT and, due to EU market competition, I wouldn’t be surprised if this cruel story is repeated in the UK

🐝 Busy bees busy deregulating

In December we told you about the NFU explicitly asking its members not to share anything on social media about their campaign to lobby the government to deregulate bee killing neonicotinoid pesticides because of the potential outrage. Well their skulduggery has succeeded! This pesticide, that was banned in the EU in order to protect pollinator populations, will now be allowed back into the English environment and food chain.

Just as a reminder, the UK gov is seeking responses to a consultation regarding the legalisation of gene editing. Last week we shared concerns that gene editing in agriculture opens the door ever wider to corporate control of the food system via patents on newly created genetic material. The claims that gene editing can improve disease-resistance and increase yields are compelling, but the failures – such as reducing the already depleted genetic pool – are hidden along with the potential damage to our EU exports due to the EU having banned this dangerous technology along with GM food.

You can watch this excellent discussion at the Oxford Real Farming Conference on how gene editing in agriculture could threaten agroecology.

🌱 Regenerative farming can feed the UK

Besides, a ground-breaking new report has found that it is possible to farm sustainably without harmful chemicals, GM, gene editing etc and produce enough food to feed everyone in the UK, if significant dietary change takes place. Commissioned by the Food and Farming Commission (FFC) and published 7 January, the report titled Ten Years to Agroecology, builds on a landmark study by French think tank IDDRI and is being hailed as the first quantifiable evidence that an alternative and non-intensive farming system is viable, and would produce enough food.

With major dietary shifts such as cutting dairy, poultry and pork consumption by half and increasing consumption of tree crops like fruit and nuts by almost 500%, we could cut emissions from land use and farming by 38%. On top of this, by using less expensive inputs and overheads, regenerative farming is reported to be more economically resilient and will restore back to the environment what years of industrial farming has depleted.

🗳️ Build back democratic food systems

Regenerative agriculture is a way to protect and rebuild agroecological systems of farming as described in the Empire Files’ utterly brilliant article – quoted below – describing how we have fallen into an agricultural dystopia and the levers which are destroying the last bastions of local food systems, not least the international development banks.

“Post-Covid, the World Bank talks about helping countries get back on track in return for structural reforms. Are tens of millions of smallholder farmers to be enticed from their land in return for individual debt relief and universal basic income?

The displacement of these farmers and the subsequent destruction of rural communities and their cultures was something the Gates Foundation once called for and cynically termed “land mobility”.

Cut through the euphemisms and it is clear that Bill Gates – and the other incredibly rich individuals behind the great reset with their ‘white saviour’ mindset – is an old-fashioned colonialist who supports the time-honoured dispossessive strategies of imperialism, whether this involves mining, appropriating and commodifying farmer knowledge, accelerating the transfer of research and seeds to corporations or facilitating intellectual property piracy and seed monopolies created through IP laws and seed regulations.”

Espousing the eviction of farmers from their land to work in “off-farm value-addition” is a dangerous neoliberal colonial narrative and is exactly the opposite of UN FAO advice. UN rapporteur Olivier De Schutter’s report concluded that applying agroecological principles to democratically controlled agricultural systems can help to put an end to food crises and poverty challenges.

👂 Listen up!

With a UK focus, listen to a debate on farming with pioneers of the agroecology land-sharing approach. Chaired by the brilliant Dr Jane Davidson, Chair of the Wales Enquiry of the Food Farming and Countryside Commission, they discuss how land can be shared, bridging the gap between different land use interests (including agricultural, wildlife and ecosystem regeneration, housing and leisure and tourism uses) towards understanding how land can deliver multiple benefits.

Forgive me for pointing out that, while we receive some one-off donations, I am funding Farms Not Factories myself, and if we are to continue to fight the cruel, antibiotic-led factory farm system, we will need some regular donations from like-minded people. Please consider a monthly subscription of £2/month and help us support a network of smaller scale, humane and healthy UK pig farms, local abattoirs and butchers.

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