October 15th, 2020 Newsletter

Yet Again Tory MPs Undermine Food Standards

Exploiting their majority in the House of Commons, the Tories rejected amendments to the Agriculture Bill proposed by the House of Lords which would have protected the UK from substandard food imports. Clearly, however loud people shout through unions and NGOs, no matter how many people are galvanised by celebrities like Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, or stories that reach front page news and mainstream TV, our demands are ignored by this authoritarian party.

But don’t despair – yet. We can keep up the pressure to ensure that the amendment succeeds when it comes before the Lords again, and we must write yet again to persuade Tory MPs to vote for the amendment. We must also send the MPs this week’s Channel 4, Dispatches episode, to open their eyes to the substantial difference between US and UK standards and the impact it will have on our food standards and farmers’ livelihoods.

As we can’t trust our politicians to protect UK food standards, our petition letter to high street fast food chains is even more relevant. Please sign this petition letter to Greggs asking them not to source any imported meat produced to standards that would be illegal in the UK.

SIGN THE PETITION

💔 EU Withdrawal Act spells withdrawal from high standards

The Tories claim that UK food standards are already protected by legislation that prevents imports of food produced to lower standards than are required of UK farmers. However a panel advising the Future British Standards Coalition noted that in the transposition of EU law by the Withdrawal Act, standards had been inserted into secondary legislation which means they can be changed without adequate scrutiny or being put to a vote.

🌎 Trade deals trump all

My local MP, Luke Hall, in this letter to me, repeated the reason for the government’s resistance to UK standards having legal status, “The amendment requiring imports of food and agricultural goods to meet domestic standards, for example, would make it very difficult to secure any new trade deals….” So, it appears the Government must retain the ability to sacrifice our higher food standards in order to secure trade deals. Without legal protection, there are numerous ways that the government could be forced by international trade rules and the WTO to accept sub-standard food imports. “For instance, ministers could decide to allow chemical washes to be used on poultry, based on advice from ‘official’ experts”.

🤡 Eustice has no integrity

When DEFRA Minister George Eustice was a backbencher, he wanted to amend the Agriculture Bill (specifically NC33) to ban substandard imports. One of Eustice’s three amendments “intended to prevent the use of chlorine and chemical washes from being authorised for poultry carcasses in order to facilitate a free trade agreement with the USA.” The amendments he proposed were dropped a month after Boris Johnson came into power.

It is clear that today we are governed by career politicians who have no integrity, least of all when the party whip is imposed. Tory MPs are no doubt scared to go the way of 21 Tory Rebels purged by Boris Johnson in September 2019 in true dictatorial form, for defying the Tory Party whip to avert what they believed was an economically damaging no-deal British exit from the European Union.

🗳 Democracy fails us

This all points to one conclusion, that democracy has failed. I believe the vast Conservative majority are now pushing for a Brexit that no-one voted for. The Brexit concocted by Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, Liam Fox, Greg Hands, Liz Truss, and their fellow globalists who dominate the cabinet, want unfettered trade with the US and other countries that have even lower standards and even stronger corporate control on the levers of power and the media, than the EU.

In the name of so-called free trade, we will see our farmers bankrupted by the import of food that is cheap not only because it has been produced in conditions that are far below the standards we have in the EU and UK, but also because the playing field is further tilted by giant animal factory owners in the US paying massive bribes (i.e campaign contributions) to local politicians to ensure that they continue to ignore what scant laws there are to protect the pigs, workers and local environment, and to prevent them passing any new laws. If US politicians don’t follow these paymasters, their reputations are vilified in the press and on social media to ensure they lose their seats at the next election. Similarly, US corporate lobbies ensure that whistleblowers who dare report poor farm standards in terms of animal welfare, food safety and pollution, are vilified ensuring that they lose their local reputations and thereby their jobs.

🔻 Divest from factory farming

We should also promote this campaign with Jane Goodall, Stanley Johnson (Boris’s Dad) and others to ask banks to stop investing in animal factories. The letter reads, “We also urge major financial institutions not to fund or invest in such production. This is essential to minimise the risk of future pandemics. It is also necessary if we are to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water pollution and antimicrobial resistance”. This is a vital campaign in the light of recent warnings that a virus SADS-CoV, which belongs to the same family as COVID-19 has been infecting pigs since 2016 causing acute diarrhoea and vomiting, and could pass from pigs to people.

🚫 Refuse to buy meat from animal factories

A direct action we can all take is to simply refuse to buy meat from animal factories. If we ate better meat and spread the cost by eating less meat, we would reduce the stress on the NHS by reducing obesity-related illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer – along with reducing our carbon footprint. Consider paying a bit more and eating a bit less meat – for the relative cost see our sausage price survey:

Sausage Price vs. Pig Welfare
Cheapest available, regular single pack of 6-8 sausages (where possible), price in £/kg
Organic Free Range RSPCA Assured +
Outdoor Bred/Reared
Red Tractor UK Standard
Riverford Organic £11.87 Not sold Not sold Not sold Not sold
Abel & Cole £13.75 Not sold Not sold Not sold Not sold
Farmdrop £11.55 £10.00 Not sold Not sold Not sold
Pipers Farm Not sold £11.00 Not sold Not sold Not sold
BigBarn Not inc. £7.40 Not sold Not sold Not sold
M&S (via Ocado) £8.82 £6.56 £5.07* Not sold Not sold
Waitrose Not sold £8.75 £4.41* Not sold Not sold
Coop Not sold Not sold £4.19 Not sold Not sold
Sainsbury’s Not sold Not sold £5.00 £3.30* £1.76
Tesco Not sold Not sold £6.25 £3.75 £1.77
Morrisons Not sold Not sold Not sold £3.06 £2.20
Aldi Not sold Not sold £4.98 £3.79 £1.76
Asda Not sold Not sold Not sold £3.50 £2.09
Average Price £11.50 £8.74 £4.98 £3.48 £1.92

* Equivalent standard – label/certification not used
Prices correct as of 15/10/20

In the 1950’s, the average spend on the weekly shop for food was a third of our income, whereas by 2016 it was just 10.5%. We must pay a fair price to farmers with good animal husbandry. According to this pioneering farmer, in the past we didn’t ‘need’ the many consumer items that are allegedly indispensable to modern life, so had more money to spend on  food from farms like this week’s small scale pig farm that sells its pork locally.

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🌱 Regeneration

To inspire action to source food responsibly please watch ‘Living Soil‘, a brilliant documentary that shows how our farmers should be working with and not against nature. Plus share the new David Attenborough’s film, ‘A Life on our Planet‘ and the film ‘Kiss the Ground‘ that expose nasty facts and inspire solutions.

Although birth rates might be falling in so-called developed nations, corporate advertisements persuade us to buy ever more gadgets, apparently to free us up to spend more time to enjoy modern life. However, globalisation is bankrupting rural economies across the globe, and so people are forced to migrate from village communities into crammed concrete, metal and plastic cities and are working ever longer hours in often meaningless jobs. To live in symbiosis with our planet and to have a good quality of life, a good place to start is to  support small scale farmers by buying real high welfare food via websites such as Farm Drop for London, or Big Barn for the UK, and remembering Native North American Chief Seattle’s words; “Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself”.

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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