March 19th, 2021 Newsletter

Industrial Agriculture Vs Public Health & Planet Earth

? #TurnYourNoseUp with Dominic West

In this 1-minute video Dominic West says,

“By the end of this film we hope that you’ll want to make sure that your pork is from a cruelty free, real farm and not an animal factory. Kept on cold concrete floors, so cramped they can’t even turn around and in conditions that promote diseases that need antibiotics. These are the realities of factory farming. We don’t want you to feel guilty, uncomfortable or blame you for what you eat. Well actually we do, because you need to know. If the pack isn’t labelled [RSPCA Assured], Organic or Free Range you’re funding the torture of animals. We’re not asking you to stop eating bacon. Just to eat bacon that comes from a natural, cruelty free environment.”

Join Dominic and many of the great and good by sending us a selfie turning your nose up to factory farming and share it on social media!

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? Trade agreements undermine healthy diets

Sustain, an umbrella organisation for over 100 food and farming NGOs, including Farms Not Factories, have released a report, ‘Trick or Trade‘ that exposes how the post-Brexit scramble for trading partners around the world has led to the UK government rushing into trade agreements without regard to whether unregulated imports will increase diet related illnesses such as diabetes and obesity. Cheap sugary drinks and processed food have replaced traditional healthy diets, even in school meals, and childhood obesity in the UK is rising and is now at a historic high of 21%. Their report explores how, without adequate health protections or parliamentary scrutiny, the UK’s new free trade agreements (FTAs) could increase imports in highly calorific food and sugary drinks, undermining the obesity strategy

‘(Trade) Agreements could have direct or indirect impacts on prices, nutritional quality, availability and promotion of these foods and drinks as well as preventing policy making to tackle the rise of both childhood and adult obesity. The report considers the demands of future trading partners such as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and shows how this could lead to deteriorating food environments and, ultimately, impact on childhood obesity.’

? Councils must re-localise food

Powerful corporations facilitate trade agreements to deregulate standards within and between nations so they are free to comb the globe for the cheapest wages and lowest food safety, environmental and work standards so they can sell into now unprotected markets. Their chemical-intensive agri-industrial systems are destroying the soil, biodiversity, and wildlife, polluting watercourses and the air and their highly processed food is causing alarming pandemics of diet-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Add to this the social and economic devastation of lockdown causing uncertainty, rent arrears and bankruptcies for millions of people; we have a global emergency.

Even in the UK, the world’s 5th wealthiest country and rated as having the cheapest food in the developed world, over four million children are growing up in poverty and malnutrition and there is now an explosion of demand for food banks. UNICEF, for the first time in its 70-year history announced last December that it would intervene to supply emergency food to UK children.

As a major part of the solution, Sustain has launched a local food campaign urging us all to take action to create food partnerships in every local area with agro-ecological farming systems that give meaningful and productive work while sustainably producing healthy food.

‘These problems can’t be solved with a quick sticking plaster but require people locally coming together for a shared understanding of the problems and identifying the best solutions. The headlines may be national but many of the solutions lie at the local level, as we have seen time and time again in the delivery of the emergency food response during Covid-19. Food partnerships are a brilliant way to bring together citizens, local government, community groups, businesses and academics to promote good food for all. In places where they already exist, they have helped drive collective progress on many of the issues above.’

Please support this invaluable campaign by taking 3 minutes to write to your local councillors.

? Public money for ‘whole farm systems’

Sustain is also calling for agroecological Whole Farm Systems to be an integral part of the government’s new subsidy scheme known as the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS).

ELMS will replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with a new approach where public money is based on delivering public goods on farmland such as carbon sequestration and storage, enhanced biodiversity and soil health, natural flood management, public engagement, clean water and air. The Sustain alliance backs this approach but wants to see a commitment from Defra to include organic, pasture-fed and agroforestry within the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI).

Vicki Hird, Head of Farming at Sustain said, “We need to see an ELM policy which is inclusive to all farmers and which properly and fairly rewards those who aim high – this dual approach is achievable through ensuring the pilots and schemes have measures suitable for organic and other agroecological, whole farm systems. Defra has an opportunity to leave a legacy so that in 15 years-time it can say it supported a genuine shift towards truly sustainable approaches on all farmland.”

⛔ Green Brexit has not been delivered

Though the government’s ELMS scheme claims to be an improvement on the EU Common Agricultural Policy’s Single Farm Payment Scheme, Greener UK, a coalition of 12 major environmental organisations with a combined public membership of over 8 million, say the government’s so-called ‘green Brexit’ has not been delivered. They claim that while protections for climate, farming, fisheries and water quality are similar to 2016, those for chemicals, nature, air quality and waste are weaker.

The coalition, which includes The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and ClientEarth, lists 4 major concerns:

  1. ‘New institutions – including the post-Brexit watchdog the Office for Environmental Protection – will be weaker than those they are replacing.
  2. Crucial environmental principles are being watered down.
  3. There’s been a lack of coordination with the EU on mutually beneficial issues, from carbon pricing to wildlife protection.
  4. The UK has left the EU’s gold standard chemical regulation system – and created a domestic version with fewer staff, less funding and restricted access to existing data.’

Brexiters were told that they would be free to protect their businesses from the cheap substandard produce traded within the EU and thereby see the opportunity to improve standards at home. Instead they are exposed to cheap products from across the globe and the only option to level the playing field is to reduce our standards – so all 4 of the above costs of the Tories Brexit are inevitable.

? Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill

When the world is faced with infinite crises, to undermine our human right to protest, the government has introduced the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, that passed its second reading on Tuesday, Police chiefs and government ministers are seeking new powers to clamp down on protests that may cause disruption and, in particular, that involve direct action and civil disobedience. The proposed bill will allow protests to go ahead so long as they aren’t “annoying” or “loud”, it gives powers to police to impose start and finish times of protests and it gives the Home Secretary powers to create laws that define “serious disruption” which police can then rely on to impose conditions on protests. These criteria leave police with abilities tantamount to being able to legally shut any protest down. It also outlines tougher sentencing where you can expect:

  • £5,000 fine for using a megaphone at Parliament
  • 10 years in jail for creating a public nuisance
  • £2,500 fine or 3 months in jail for residing at a protest camp
  • £2,500 fine or 1 year in jail if you’re conducting a one person protest

Greenpeace UK’s executive director John Sauven said that non-violent protests have been essential in forcing “reluctant governments” to confront issues such as the climate crisis.

“By attacking the right to protest, ministers are effectively sabotaging one of the fundamental mechanisms that allow our society to correct mistakes, address injustices, and prevent disasters.”

Mike Schwarz, a partner at the law firm Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors, believes the Bill is the result of police “embarrassment” that Extinction Rebellion’s tactics have proved so successful.

“There are a number of ways of affecting Government and business decisions, and protest is the most democratic,” Mr Schwarz explained. “Because these are people who don’t have access to lobbying consultants and inside tracks and meals with ministers or personal telephone numbers and the revolving doors of ministry and business. They don’t have access to those privileged forms of access.

Published just a week before it was due to be first debated in parliament, the bill deprives civil society, opposition parties, and anyone who is not in government, of adequate time to vocalise discontent.

The bill includes the creation of a new trespass offence that if passed would criminalise actions that are essential tools to seek change, not least by exposing the cruel practices on factory farms. In 2016, I exposed the conditions on a factory farm in Wiltshire by trespassing on their land which at the time was a civil offence. If the bill is passed investigations like mine will be criminalised and punished by a prohibitive fine or sentence. Greta Thunberg has also hit out against the new bill saying her one person school strike for the climate protest would be considered ‘annoying’ by the new Policing bill.

Net pol, the network for police monitoring, have released this petition which you can sign raising concerns about this new bill.

? African Earth Jurisprudence Collective

People are waking up to the true cost of progress and demanding a change in direction through demonstrations, conscientious consumer choices and living closer to nature – a life still enjoyed where the tentacles of development have yet to reach. Africa could lead this change but must rid itself of the shackles of colonialism where the extractivist agenda still rules. Bill Gates is presently leading the charge with his Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which is funding the privatisation and consolidation of land in Africa into the hands of giant corporations to grow chemical intensive monoculture crops for export. Producing these commodity cash crops (often not even food, but coffee, tea, cotton for export) depends on companies making deals with (bribing) governments to clear small holders from traditional village land on which they had been feeding their communities with a diverse range of crops for generations.

However, the farmers are revolting. The Gaia Foundation has been partnering with tribal leaders to return to their traditional ways of farming. This 18-minute video shows the work of their Earth Jurisprudence project.

‘Central to this work is the philosophy and practice of Earth Jurisprudence, inspired by Thomas Berry, which calls for a transformation from human-centred to Earth-centred cosmology, ways of living, law and governance.

The African Earth Jurisprudence Collective is catalysing the revival of indigenous knowledge and practices and customary laws across the continent – the original, pre-colonial laws derived from ancestral lands, that have governed human communities over millennia to live in mutually-enhancing relationships with the wider Earth community’.

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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