July 2nd, 2021 Newsletter

Bring the Food Economy Home

Dinner time! Pester Pig says buy high welfare

When buying pork make sure to #JustAsk if the pork is from a local high welfare farm or look for the high welfare labels; RSPCA Assured, Free Range, or best of all Organic – Use our labelling guide.

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Trade Dichotomies

I won’t repeat my concerns with the Trans-Pacific Trade Deal, except to link to Farming today where in 3 short sound bites the speakers explain the dichotomy around the first, disaster, The Australia deal. The deputy PM in Australia boasts on Australian TV;

“The big winners are the Australian farmers, indeed Australians full stop. This could mean a $AU1.3 billion boost to the economy and indeed with sheep meat… 25,000 tons of lamb chops and others have free and duty free access to the UK market right now. Potentially 58 million customers bidding for Australia’s wonderful chops,wonderful sheep meat but beef as well, sugar…”

In UK Parliament, our International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, speaks in riddles to disguise a disaster;

“In agriculture it is important we have a proper transition period, that is why we have agreed 15 years of capped tariff free imports from Australia which means that Australian farmers will only have the same access to the UK market the EU farmers do in 2036. We should use this time to expand our beef and lamb exports to the CPTPP ….(TW comment; Politicians have rebranded the same disterous Trans-Pacific Partnership as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). There is nothing comprehensive or progressive with prioritising trade with countries furthest away) …..markets which are expected to account for a quarter of global meat demand by 2030. I don’t buy this defeatist narrative that Brit agriculture can’t compete. We have a high quality, high value product which people want to buy particularly in the growing middle classes of Asia. This Australia deal is a key step in joining the TPP.”

A common sense response from the Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, Emily Thornberry;

“The Secretary of State has just signed a deal which allows Australia to increase its exports of beef by 6000% without paying any tariffs. And in the government’s own scoping paper last July we have it in black and white, that increase in Australian exports will mean and I quote; ‘…a fall in output in the UK’s agriculture sector’. British farmers left worse off as a result of her deal. Another broken promise and more to come when New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, and America demand the same deal from their exports”.

How can ‘competition’ between businesses across the globe be such a mantra when in reality, it is a race to the bottom? The tiny number of giant corporations only win because their economies of scale give them the power and freedom to break the law, avoid paying taxes, collect government subsidies, destroy small and medium scale farmers, underpay their labour, pollute the air, soil and water, lower animal welfare standards and undermine local economies.

Freedom of information

To reveal the truth, we desperately need whistleblowers. and brave publishers like Wikileaks who revealed the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) papers back in 2013. It included the chapter on its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents. Significantly, the released text includes the negotiation positions and disagreements between all 12 prospective member states.

For accessing whistleblowers information of public interest that include government war crimes, corruption and environmental destruction, Julian Assange has had his reputation smeared with lies and been deprived of his freedom for the past 13 years. This Saturday he will be spending his 50th birthday in Belmarsh prison, where he has been arbitrarily incarcerated for 3 years, and is now awaiting the US appeal that rests on a pack of lies . Please join many of his supporters protesting with their picnic on 3rd July from 1pm outside Parliament. There will be giant picnic blankets in the Square stencilled with ‘Free Assange’ slogan and a string quartet. Vivenne Westwood and Julian’s partner, Stella Moris, will be there to cut the cake and say a few words.

“Reporters Without Borders (RSF) joined the #AssangeWeek campaign last Monday launching an online action to collect messages for Assange’s 50th birthday which then will be delivered to him in prison. Campaigns director Rebecca Vincent said: “Julian Assange’s continued arbitrary detention as he begins another decade is a blight on the US and UK’s press freedom records. Let this be the last birthday he spends in prison. Join our call to #FreeAssange!”

Richard Burgon, Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn travelled to UK’s high-security Belmarsh prison on June 29th, to deliver a cross-party letter to the prison governor raising the prison and Justice Secretary’s ongoing refusal to allow a meeting with Julian Assange. The letter was signed by 20 parliamentarians from 4 parties. The letter stresses the “important implications for press and publishing freedoms in the UK and for the US-UK Extradition Treaty including its ban on extradition for political offences.”

Long food chains are not resilient

Without brave whistleblowers and publishers, only the symptoms – not the true cost and perpetrators – of this corporate hegemony and its long food chains, are discussed in mainstream media. Right now we hear reports that Britain could face gaps on supermarket shelves this summer due to a shortage of more than 100,000 HGV drivers, caused by a combination of fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, contributing to unpredictable supplies of fruits, vegetables and prepared foods in stores and restaurant chains.

UK farmers are also panicking over a shortage of labour in our giant slaughterhouse/ processing plants that may result in their pigs not selling and getting too large to stay on farm. 80% of these gruesome jobs are filled by migrants who have returned home due to lockdown while UK labour shifts to the now booming and less harrowing, hospitality industry;

‘…. concerns are ones shared across the entire meat industry. Worker shortages within processing plants are starting to bite, as pubs, restaurants and fast food chains embark on major hiring sprees, offering higher wages and less grisly work conditions.

The problem isn’t only in the UK, the US is also suffering from food shortages. And it isn’t due to a scarcity of the product itself, rather networks of cargo ships, trains and trucks buckled under the ongoing stress from the pandemic which also caused facility closures and reduced labour at farms, factories and warehouses and contributed to shortages of everything from meat and cooking oil to plastic and glass packaging.

Moratorium on meat industry consolidation

Surely it’s time to have a moratorium on the consolidation of the meat industry. This would give councils the teeth to say no to planning consents and prevent the likes of the Wright Brothers’ JMW Farm Ltd, from getting planning permission to build a giant £75 million packing shed in Northern Ireland that will have the capacity to kill 7,000 sows per week.

Solution: Bring the food economy home

The reasons are starkly laid out in The Landworkers’ Alliance list of 12 reasons why industrial-scale supply chains are driving environmental harm in the fresh produce sector.

The Landworkers’ Alliance, a UK union of agroecological farmers and growers, has been running a horticultural ‘test and trial’ for the Government’s new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), part of the replacement for the Common Agricultural Policy. This has involved interviewing growers about how the ELMS can support them to improve their environmental performance. A theme that arose repeatedly during these interviews was the role of industrial supply chains in driving growers to protect their vanishingly narrow margins through practices such as agrochemical use, overuse of soils and wasting produce that is ‘graded out’. In contrast, the agroecological growers in the ELMS trial who supply urban box schemes that prioritise seasonality, sustainable production and a fair price for farmers (‘farmer focussed’ supply chains), felt supported in using techniques that encourage biodiversity and soil health, and minimise waste. In the light of this research, I set out below 12 reasons why, in our view, industrial supply systems, including supermarkets, processors and mass catering, are driving environmentally harmful practices.

News round-up

🎉 EU to ban caging farm animals

“Many years of campaigning to End the Cage Age have culminated in this historic commitment. However, we must not become complacent. It is now crucial that the UK Government follows suit and delivers an end to the use of cages – Britain must not get left trailing behind the EU in improving farm animal welfare”.

♻️ Food giants sign up to new Foundation Earth eco-labelling scheme;

‘Through a pilot launch this autumn, non-profit organisation Foundation Earth will issue front-of-pack eco-scores on food and drink products. The labels will rate a product’s environmental credentials using a traffic-light scoring system devised by the consultancy Mondra.

The system behind the labels looks at farming, processing, packaging and transport. It assesses the environmental impact of a product based upon carbon (49% weighted), water usage (17%), water pollution (17%) and biodiversity loss (17%).’

Tracy Worcester; My concern is that Foundation Earth’s industry advisory group includes the factory farm, feed and processing giant Tyson Foods! As we are some way from a revolution in consumer consciousness to care beyond price and taste (that has been unhealthily manipulated), substandard food shouldn’t be on the supermarket shelf at all!

✒️ New legislation on pork labelling in Italy

‘Italy will soon introduce new legislation on the national labelling of pork products. It is related to levels of animal welfare and sow breeding conditions…

CIWF Italia director Annamaria Pisapia… argued that the law penalises the farmers who are already farming with better indoors standards, as they will be ‘put in the same pot’ with farmers that do basically intensive production. That also means, she said, that farmers who have already stopped tail docking would be categorised with those that still use the practice. In addition, CIWF Italia would like the law to address the use of sow gestation crates.’

💰 Danish Activists Sue Pork Giant Danish Crown Over Climate Slogans

‘Last year, Europe’s biggest meat processor and the world’s largest pork exporter Danish Crown launched what it described as its “biggest advertising campaign ever.” On TV, newspaper ads, the radio, and billboards across Denmark, the company announced that “pigs are more climate-friendly than you think” and put pink-green stickers on its pork products, referring to pigs slaughtered by the company as “climate-controlled.”

Faced with immediate criticism from consumer organizations accusing Danish Crown of greenwashing, it stopped promoting the first slogan. The company, however, is still using the “climate-controlled pig” claim even after three complaints, including one from Greenpeace Denmark, reported the campaign to the Danish consumer protection agency.

🤷 What’s the deal with trade deals?

“You might have seen a lot about trade deals in the news or your social media feeds recently. But it is all quite technical, and it can be hard to know how important it really is. So here we have outlined why it matters.

Since we left the EU, the UK must renegotiate trade deals. For a lot of them this just involved rolling over the same deal we previously had as part of the EU. But other Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are being created from scratch. The first of these to be agreed is the deal with Australia.”

☀️ Farmers swap crops from energy; Solar farms increase in England

“The solar boom is expected to yield more than double the solar energy capacity that came forward for the east of England in the same months last year, and would be enough to power the equivalent of 400,000 homes with clean energy.”

Tracy Worcester; Surely it would be better to put the solar panels on roofs and leave the soil to grow local chemical free food?

🍔 5,000 burgers a day: World’s first lab-grown meat factory opens up in Israel

‘Most lab-grown meat is produced by two methodologies, either using plant products as their starting point (such as the products offered by the likes of Impossible foods and Beyond Meat), or starting with real cells harvested from live animals. The latter is essentially real meat — it’s “cloned” with cells that are nurtured in bioreactors and fed the same nutrients as the living animals, which enable them to grow and multiply.’

Tracy Worcester: I personally would prefer to eat real food from real high welfare farmers as opposed to heavily processed so called meat made by a few giant corporations who have a record of putting profits before human, animal and environmental wellbeing. However, if people don’t care, can’t find or can’t afford meat from an animal that has had a great life, then they may want the paste described in this article rather than meat from animal factories.

🐄 Sacred cow – the nutritional, environmental and ethical case for better meat.

“With both iterations of Sacred Cow, Rodgers wants to show that meat isn’t the problem and, in fact, is part of the solution. “I’m hoping to effect some policy and make some noise about regenerative agriculture on a bigger scale with the film,” she said. “Now is the perfect time, with COVID,” Rodgers said. “We really see the disruption in industrial meat supply chains and the value people are placing on more regional food systems and better food in general.”

🐮 “Green Seal”, Brazil’s plan to thwart ‘cattle laundering’

Digital platform aims to clean up beef trade by reporting animals reared on farms linked to illegal deforestation, or on farms that have unpaid environmental fines, or involvement in crimes such as slave labour.

The system uses data sets that include rural property registries, animal transport records, deforestation information and schedules of fines. Although these data sets already existed, there were no links between the different databases, making investigations slow and cumbersome to carry out. Now, the system allows for full and easy traceability of an animal’s origins, according to its backers.’

Tracy Worcester; Whether or not this is greenwash, an instant solution is to only buy UK pasture fed meat!

🌳 Development pressure in Sussex threatens to cut off corridors for nature

“Housing numbers are decided by a complicated system whereby a national equation sets out how many homes a local planning authority needs to plan for, this is based around economic and population growth predictions. Critically no environmental information is used in this calculation – can the borough or district sustain this level of growth or will it be the growth that provides the death knell to the functionality of nature?”

Please donate

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.

“Our message is simple, we want to help bring an end to this dangerous, inhumane system. Vote for real farming over factory farming.”
– Tracy Worcester, Director

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