‘If we didn’t care about the environment, we would go bust’

February 3, 2020

 

ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTMENT: “Many generations of us ago have learned a very important lesson, which is that unless a farmer looks after his environment it won’t look after him. Unless he cares for the land and manages it sympathetically it won’t deliver him the returns on crop-growing or livestock-raising that he needs and he will be out of business.”

IMPORTS POLLUTE: Farmland adjacent to the village of Kingston on the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset. “We could well find ourselves struggling to remain 50 per cent self-sufficient with a commensurate rise in expensive and generally inferior imports, and the result of higher food mileage and the consequences of higher carbon emissions.”

 

A PROMINENT countryside campaigner has accused critics of the livestock industry of making statements about animal husbandry with no evidence to back up their claims.

David Handley, chairman of Farmers For Action, has directly challenged organisations such as Compassion In World Farming, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Vegetarian International Voice for Animals (VIVA) to provide evidence whilst demonising the industry by implication.

 

‘Many critics are not working on the land for living’

And he has also called out those who call out those critics of the industry about management of the environment about how qualified they are to lecture about it when they are not in the every day living of working on the land, growing food, conserving landscape and being actively involved in wildlife conservation programmes.

‘Where are all the prosecutions and convictions?’

In his on-line column Thoughts For The Weekend Mr Handley said: “We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and while there are occasional lapses (which are quite rightly punished) they are very much the exception than the rule.

“If animal ill-treatment is as widespread as the vegan converts would have the country believe it is where is the evidence? Where are the prosecutions? Where are the convictions?”

‘Look at what you see and please listen to us’

Mr Handley said: “The truth – for those who are prepared to abandon their prejudices and listen to it – is very different. Look around any section of the British landscape and you will see how well-cared for the environment is by farmers.

“Many generations of us ago have learned a very important lesson, which is that unless a farmer looks after his environment it won’t look after him.

‘Re-wilding is propaganda pumped out by the Archers’

“Unless he cares for the land and manages it sympathetically it won’t deliver him the returns on crop-growing or livestock-raising that he needs and he will be out of business.

“Unfortunately all this is leading to the wheels on the anti-farming bandwagon rumbling louder and nearer with even lunatic ideas such as ‘rewilding’ taken up and pumped out as propaganda by The Archers.

Mr Handley also chastised his fellow industry leader, NFU president and Wiltshire farmer Minette Batters, for allowing her members to be pushed to do more for environmental improvements, rather than food production, as there was a current food security issue at the moment due to global insecurity.

He said: “I know precisely why she is adopting that tack: it’s because of the prospect of the UK’s future farming policy being skewed towards rewarding farmers for environmental improvements rather than food production.

‘Self-sufficiency is a food security issue right now’

“But to unleash such a blanket policy on the country as a whole could be disastrous because tilting the balance away from food production could, I am seriously warning, see a catastrophic fall in food output at the very time we need more of it.

Mr Handley claims the emphasis on the environment rather than food production, could unwittingly lead to less self-sufficiency and the import of food products to higher costs and lower standards. And he also said that suppliers to big supermarkets are sacrificing environmental standards in order to stay afloat due to low farm-gate prices.

‘Increasing imports would add to carbon emissions’

“We could well find ourselves struggling to remain 50 per cent self-sufficient with a commensurate rise in expensive and generally inferior imports, and the result of higher food mileage and the consequences of higher carbon emissions.

“Like all farmers I want to see our environment protected and where possible enhanced. But this must not be allowed to happen at the expense of food production or if it leads to negative environmental effects such as even more harmful emissions stemming from hundreds of thousands of extra food miles.

‘Buy more food from local shops rather than supermarkets’

“It makes far more sense for all of us to buy more of our food from independent butchers, farm shops and direct-selling farmers – the latter the only ones at the moment who are making a decent enough profit to reinvest and expand – rather than unquestioningly supporting supermarkets whose appalling farmgate prices are not merely putting their suppliers under pressure but who are forcing many of them into environmentally-unsound practices in order to stay afloat.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sam February 15, 2020 at 6:19 pm

Large parts of the word are also arid or semiarid and aren’t suitable for crops. In these locations livestock are the only broad scale food production option. Plus including god quality meat as part of a balanced diet is vital to maintaining health as we don’t have a digestive system capable of extracting nutrients as well as other herbivores, we can live on a vegan diet but you wont be in top health especially long-term.

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