The immediate future of farm policy in Britain

The context Farming is currently experiencing many difficulties and the recent history of the Farming Community Network (FCN), a Christian charity devoted to supporting farming people in difficulties across England and Wales, makes their impact very clear. Not to be forgotten are those who are still struggling to recover from bouts of flooding from last year and the year before. In recent twelve months farming income fell by 29%. This has been extremely difficult for most farmers with cash flow Read more [...]

So why did many farmers vote… ?

Most UK farmers depend heavily on support payments. In several years recently the grand total of net farm income, which includes funds to invest as well as to live on, has been similar to the total of subsidy payments. In other words, on average no subsidy, no NFI. On this farm about 25% of the revenue is subsidy. Every time the payment system goes haywire, caseload for organisations such as The Farming Community Network (FCN) rises threefold or more. So why did many farmers embrace Brexit? Read more [...]

EU! In or out?

Perhaps I should begin by saying that I write as one of those who has been told that they are unlikely to receive their BPS payment before the end of January 2016! However, since I have no idea whether the reasons for this are to be found in Brussels or London I do not think I will let it influence what follows! This is a mixture of the practical, the narrowly political and the moral: a difficult mix for Christian discernment. As the NFU has pointed out in its paper 'UK Farming's relationship Read more [...]

More on ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’

Reading my original piece about the 'global alliance for climate smart agriculture' people will have noticed the prominent role of a fertiliser company called Yara and may, like me, have been puzzled by the prominent role of Walmart. At the farm level, trying to reduce the impact on the climate I have been frustrated about the lack of information as to how much emission damage is already connected with Nitrogen fertiliser. The manufacture of nitrogen fertiliser requires a considerable input of Read more [...]

The problems and penalties of ‘progress’

I have recently read an account of a large rice growing project in Northern Nigeria which may in future produce a lot of rice but which drives the existing users of the land into destitution. Our Parish has recently been remembering a similar course of events from 250 years ago. Perhaps the only claim to any particular significance that our Parish of West Haddon has is that it occupies the high ground to the north of the Watford Gap opposite to Daventry to the south. However, 250 years ago in 1765 Read more [...]

Why didn’t you save the forest?

One of the biblical themes in Honey & Thistles is about a equitable distribution of land.  This principle has been and is being abused in many places.  This not only deprives people of their home and livelihood, identity and culture, but it is frequently accompanied by massive environmental damage.  This video from CMS, one of ATP’s partners makes all this vividly clear

What is GACSA?

GACSA stands for the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture.  It appears to be the brainchild of a few governments and international bodies, working with ideas being developed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).  This has published a 'Source Book'.  What looks like a loose alliance of some 21 governments, including the UK, USA, Canada, Japan and 9 other European governments and 70 international research and academic bodies has come together with some corporate names like Read more [...]

Milk quotas and matters arising

On April 1st the BBC reported that milk quotas were being abolished “so (that) EU dairy business can compete with international rivals in supplying growing markets in Asia and Africa”. It is not immediately clear why a system to match production to demand should be an obstacle to exports.  Quotas were introduced in 1984 when the EU was struggling with “mountains” of skimmed milk powder and butter.  The figures appear to show that quotas contained this problem, which was giving the Common Read more [...]