Talking to Parliament

Successive British governments these past 40 years have treated agriculture simply as “a business like any other”, and conceived business more or less exclusively as a way of maximizing wealth, and at times have seemed to suggest that we’d be better off without any farming at all since it can be cheaper to buy from abroad. Insofar as we have retained some agriculture governments in general have put their weight and our money behind the industrial kind – big, high-input, minimum-labour monocultures. Their attitude, in short, has been absolutely at odds with ideals and policies advocated by the Campaign for Real Farming.

But not all politicians have been comfortable with the way things have gone and now there are signs that the government itself may be starting to feel that farming should be taken seriously after all; that we should not rely on the rest of the world to feed us because others have problems of their own and in any case, these days, we could easily be out-bid on the world market. So successive secretaries of state have been suggesting that we ought to provide more of our own food; and the government as a whole seems now to be acknowledging that it isn’t a good idea to destroy our fellow creatures and the fabric of the Earth, even if is profitable to do so in the short term.

Indeed there are signs that parliament may be prepared to listen to ideas on agriculture that do not come straight from the editorial columns of The Daily Telegraph and the Wall Street Journal. So it was that yours truly, co-founder of the Campaign for Real Farming and of this website, was invited on June 22 to Portcullis House in London to answer questions from the Environmental Audit Committee. You can see the results on tape here (I’m on just after half way through).

6 thoughts on “Talking to Parliament

  1. Hi Ruth,

    I came across the above website (Dutch ?) recently and wondered if there are any groups in the UK lobbying the EU on food sovereignty and local food issues with regard to the Common Agricultural Policy 2013 reforms.

    Do you know of a UK petition?

    “In 2013, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union will undergo major reforms. The reforms will influence the way our food is produced, how the European landscape is shaped and the way our food is distributed on a global scale. In other words, they will determine the future of our food. This does not make the CAP an issue solely for politicians and farmers, but for every European citizen.

    If we want to make a change, the time is now!”

    Many Thanks.

  2. I was interested to read about The first European Forum for Food Sovereignty, which will take place in Krems in Austria from the 16th to 21st of August 2011.

    “Tired of the ineffective policy space of the G20 and other international fora, groups and organizations across Europe are organizing the Nyeleni Europe Forum for Food Sovereignty in Krems in Austria from the 16th to 21st of August which will look at real solutions to solving the problems in the world’s food and agricultural systems.”

    “The Nyeleni Europe Forum will bring together more than 500 representatives of organizations working on food sovereignty from the whole European region, made of 50 countries. Preparations for the Forum have been underway for more than a year, as the organizers aim to ensure transparency and grassroots participation.”

    “There are people already working on practical and concrete alternatives to strengthen the network for Food Sovereignty at the European and global level. Different groups of topics will be discussed, from modes of production, to access to land, biodiversity and the environment through to public policies like the CAP” adds Ludwig Rumetshofer, another of the organizers.

    The forum will also discuss strategies of policy advocacy at the European and global levels, and will put in place the basis of a European network for Food Sovereignty.”

    1. Hi Theresa
      A UK Food Sovereignty Group is being established in time for the Austria meeting. (FoE, Gaia Fndn, The UK Food Group, et all are all involved, as well as the Campaign.)
      Representatives will be sent from the UK.

      This from the European Food Sovereignty Forum:
      If your organisation supports the Forum and would like to get involved, please visit our website at

      The calendar on our website has been set up for members of the UK Food Sovereignty Group. It’s not quite ready for launch, but you should soon be able to sign up to the Food Sovereignty Principles and will get info on all that’s happening.

      best wishes

    2. Hi Theresa
      See below for info on what’s going on here in the UK in preparation for the Nyelenie Europe Forum
      best wishes

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