October 22nd, 2020 Newsletter

March Against Low Food Standards

🗳️ Lords vote to uphold standards

The amendment to the Agriculture Bill to prevent substandard food imports that was passed by the House of Lords last month, then rejected by the House of Commons, was once again passed by the Lords on Monday. The amendment proposes ‘to seek equivalence on agri-food standards in relation to future trade’ – in other words, protect UK standards from being undermined by substandard imports.

Most people are astounded by the Government’s decision to not accept the Lords’ amendments. The House of Commons debate (from 18:02:47) is worth a watch to see which MPs said what and why, and who is not standing up for British farmers. Most notably Government ministers such as Victoria Prentis, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food voted against the amendment, and Environment Secretary George Eustice, who in answer to a question from a vet confirmed that he would allow substandard imports but would impose tariff barriers, which, as we know, can be lifted all to easily.

📢 March for food standards

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Global Justice Now has organised demos this Saturday at 12pm in Parliament Square, London and Cambridge and a virtual demo online with brilliant speakers at 5.30, to object to a Toxic Trade Deal with the US. If you can’t go to the demos there are many more actions happening across the country on Saturday; for more information and actions contact activism@globaljustice.org.uk.

And if you can’t get to the demo, please take a picture of yourself holding a message saying ‘Stop the Toxic US Trade Deal’ and upload it to this gallery of similar images. Better still, if you’re on twitter, upload it and tag Liz Truss (@TrussLiz) and your own MP so they know you oppose the deal.

💰 US economies of scale will kill our rural economy

There are many reasons why a trade deal with the US, in its current form, would be a disaster for food and farming in this country. Here’s a good breakdown of some of the most important differences between US and UK food production and this week’s Guardian summary of animal abuses and endemic fraud in the US livestock industry. We need to focus on re-localising and reducing the number of animals in our food systems here in the UK, not drive down standards on the road to globalisation.

To promote this shift and avoid some of the endemic horrors of factory farming, USPCA (Ulster Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals) chief said “…as we leave the EU, future financial support for farming could be linked to a move towards higher welfare and environmentally friendly systems, offsetting any short-term reduction in farm revenue arising from lower density practices…”, he added, “food labelling could be enhanced to require a declaration of the type of farming practice used in the meat production. We are confident that the public would support farming practices with higher welfare standards and that consumer demand would drive change”.

👹 ‘There’s a monster in my kitchen’

As producing feed for industrially produced meat is the biggest cause of deforestation, sourcing GM-free and chemical-free and locally/nationally produced animal feed would help protect the earth’s lungs, water, carbon capture and biodiversity. See and share this brilliant Greenpeace cartoon.

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🏭 Anaerobic digesters, eating away at sustainable farming

Farming Today – (22/10/20 – 6 mins in) – discusses the use of anaerobic digesters (ADs) on a small dairy farm of 150 cows that uses the methane from the slurry to power the dairy cooperative, Arla’s milk tanker. As Professor Dieter Helm explains, there are massive subsidies going into ADs despite their questionable greenhouse gas gains due to the environmental problems associated with the large scale production of maize used as an additive to slurry to run the ADs and the number of lorries carting the maize and digestate slurry to and from the fields. Also, new-build animal factories are getting planning permission on condition they include an on-site AD plant, despite the huge costs to people, pigs and the planet. Feedback’s report ‘Bad Energy’ shows the gaping flaws in this greenwash. For more information, see our recent article.

✂ Tail docking

The need to protect our UK farmers is highlighted by the lack of compliance with tail docking legislation that has shown the difficulty of imposing equivalent laws on all EU countries. The crowded, stressful conditions common on industrial-scale farms, in which pigs are unable to pursue their natural investigative behaviour, are the main trigger for tail-biting outbreaks. The EU banned routine tail docking in 2008 insisting that farmers instead improve the pigs’ conditions. However, in order to remain competitive, almost all EU countries have ignored the ban, so the stressful conditions continue. Our Tory politicians are following the neo-liberal mantra and negotiating trade deals with countries with diabolical food safety, animal welfare, and environmental standards, so we need to keep pressing our politicians to ban substandard imports via amendments to the Agriculture Bill. And on top of this, we must also use the power of our purse to protect and increase the number of real farms in the UK.

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.

Tracy Worcester, Director

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