A National Agricultural Policy

FEA (“Funding Enlightened Agriculture”) was recent established specifically to direct new farms and markets and even research projects towards appropriate finance, and to provide appropriate business advice. FEA is a project of the Real Farming Trust, a registered charity.

Taken together all these mechanisms, movements, and trends add up to what might be called – to invert a famous quote from Edward Heath – “The acceptable face of capitalism”. Capitalism should be not be “smashed” as the extreme Left suggests, for this would certainly be difficult and probably counter-productive. But it does need to be rescued from reductionist, amoral pit into which it has been allowed to sink.

Clearly, there are many specific ways in which a political party could help to smooth the path for all of the above endeavours – though in the present manifesto a general statement of intent will suffice.

FOOTNOTES

1: The Future of Food and Farming. A Foresight report chaired by Sir John Beddington. Government Office for Science, January 2011.

2: Agriculture at a Crossroads. Report by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development. Co-chaired by Professor Hans Herren of the Millennium Institute, Washington, and Judi Wakhungu of the African Centre for Technology Studies. 2009.

4 thoughts on “A National Agricultural Policy

  1. Thank you for a brilliant article. It will stimulate me to put pen to paper on a wider range of issues where the same kinds of principles apply.

    I am trying to answer one simple question that either has not troubled the finest minds in economics or has proved too difficult. That question is ‘how do we move jobs to people, rather than expecting people to move to the jobs?’

    Your writings have given me a lot of new ideas to mull over.

    1. Your question is thought provoking & challenging Joe, only I’m wondering whether the terminology tends to limit the possible options…would it be more helpful to put the notion of “a job” on one side temporarily, and replace it with the more replete term “livelihood?”

      My point is that livelihood implies engagement with one’s surroundings, one’s total environment, stakeholding, interacting and being embedded within a community of intent; whereas “job” may only suggest a “conventional” structure of employment, that suggests one’s probable dependence and vulnerability to shifting priorities, like the flux of “markets” serving shareholders’ profit motives, without their direct participation or personal involvement.

      Once we define ourselves as merely “labour,” as only an economic component or potential tool for some business enterprise or other, we are no longer self-determining autonomous beings with creative potential and needs beyond simple gainful “employment.”

      I think your inverted emphasis is extremely helpful, but perhaps that inversion demands more complex, reflexive context ~ some “added (psycho-social) value…”

  2. Towards the end of your article you talk of land ownership, the only way is nationalisation, but to keep on side the farmers that would be effected, would need a massive educational understanding on their behalf to forgo family ties to the farm and the future.This would be do able, provided the profit that would have been made and put back into the farm for equipment ,stock etc would now be covered by legitimate hand outs to cover the improvements, thus giving the farm a way forward with an incentive and interest for all concerned.

    1. I think the devil is in the detail on this one Peter. The impression I have is that family farms to a very great extent have already been sold off and consolidated, under agribusiness corporate protocols.

      Land is also being bought up and only maintained as an investment hedge, not only here but internationally. A comprehensive, up-to-date, survey might reveal some surprising statistics.

      Personally, I’d like to see the development of adaptable, carefully conceived, design templates for sustainable, small-scale, technologically appropriate and self-contained, self-sufficient cooperative ventures.

      Something sufficiently flexible, yet robust enough to persuade the big landowning entities like the Crown, to lease or grant rights to multiple permaculture type small-holdings or “cellular” initiatives right across the country.

      Poundbury in Dorset was an intriguing socio-architectural experiment, sponsored by the Duchy of Cornwall, an idea that could be adapted in a different form to accommodate working aspirations and agrarian renaissance rural needs. I think we should be encouraging such bold visionary thinking.

      The trick would be to devise an adaptive, enlightened formula that satisfies the highest standards of ecological estate management and land stewardship, whilst empowering participating stakeholders, rather that imposing a procrustean regimen that stifles independence, individual sovereignty and self-expression.

      I actually think Colin’s proposed network of colleges, could form the coherent infrastructure for such a diverse programme of rural “repopulation.” We need more people on the land, but in ways that offer the means to improve habitats rather than degrading them, either biologically or aesthetically.

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