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Retailers in Corner on Climate Change

world climate conf paris

The World Climate Change Conference in Paris is under way, attended by over 150 countries. In a message received today, from William Taylor, co-ordinator of Farmers for Action, Northern Ireland (second left, meeting on farmgate prices) writes:

WT farmgate pricesThis has brought into sharp focus just where our world is with industrial pollution, food production and its value and the value of farmers.

According to Sir David Attenborough, Barack Obama and others there is still time to fix this, but only just and we must act now for the sake of our children and future generations!

Now we have the corporates, food wholesalers, retailers and processors in a corner.

How can they mention the word ‘green’ yet import New Zealand lamb during 2015 when there is plenty already here, purely for profit and to play off New Zealand farmers against UK farmers and vice versa. (Ed: see MP Caroline Lucas’: Stopping the great food swap: Relocalising Europe’s food supply).

How can they import beef even from Poland when there is plenty here already and so the list goes on – but no longer! FFA intend to hold the corporates and Westminster Government to account on their carbon foot print at every turn by exposing their green credentials for the pharisees that they currently are.

Furthermore, FFA would warn the Government about pointing the finger at livestock methane emissions (which are being improved on) which disperse in 20 years – while the corporate food world plays fast and loose with carbon footprints and the resulting CO2 emissions that take 200 years to disperse, purely for profit, with the Government’s blessing, while UK farmers go broke.

FFA are calling for the Westminster Government to introduce the pre-EU Isle of Man system, where regional produce, which must come from the nearest source, must all be used first and foremost before any is imported.

US cannot turn up at a climate change conference in Paris in full support and then agree to have the same food – eg beef – sailing to the US whilst another ship sails to the UK with the same cargo. This is but one example of the double standards of the UK Government and Europe on climate change that FFA are not prepared to tolerate!

Farmers For Action

56 Cashel Road, Macosquin, Coleraine, BT51 4NU

Tel. 028 703 43419 / 07909744624

Email taylor.w@btconnect.com

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Food: important as a global trading commodity – or essential to a country’s food security and sovereignty?

 

Beleaguered food producers in Britain – underpaid to boost supermarket profits, beset by threats to commandeer land for projects such as HS2 and hydraulic fracturing, urged to merge into factory farm units, use GM animal feed and seeds and export so as to import cheap food produced by dubious methods – will have a fellow-feeling for hitherto more cherished farmers in Japan.

 

Bundling harvested rice

Bundling harvested rice

Prime Minister Abe earlier pledged to protect Japan’s “beautiful” rice fields and “safe, delicious food”, but despite this, he has joined negotiations for the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership. Today an adviser to Abe’s 2006 government urges Japan to lower its tariff barriers on agricultural products  – and so force other countries to lower their tariffs on Japanese manufactured goods.

In March, after several thousand farmers had protested in Tokyo, Hitoshi Kondo, who works for Japan Agriculture (JA), the well-organised and effective national network of farm co-operatives, explained the concerns of food producers on Japan’s typically tiny farms:

“If products from the US or Australia enter the market, there’s no way we can compete. Farmers will go out of business and the environment will be ruined. We don’t want to be sacrificed for the sake of cars and electronics.”

Abe’s former adviser, Takatoshi Ito, points out that Japanese farmers are among the most protected in the world, with half of average incomes coming from subsidies and price supports compared with one-fifth in the EU and one-10th in the US.

Japan Agriculture warns that if Japan joins the TPP, “we may no longer be able to eat the safe, secure domestic food that has nourished our lives” and the agriculture ministry has said that if trade barriers are lifted Japan’s agricultural output could shrink by half.

Mr Abe is said to be about to issue a prime minister’s directive to change the law so that non-agricultural corporations are allowed to own agricultural land. At present, only small-scale farmers can do so. Japan’s general trading companies, such as Mitsubishi and Mitsui, would probably seize the opportunity to produce, distribute and export agricultural products under one roof.

Larger-scale farmers need not lose out on either jobs or income . . .

Ito adds that those who have only small plots of land with a high cost of production . . . can be compensated for their land, which could then be absorbed into much larger and more productive units with lower costs.

So there’s the plan in both countries and many others in the grip of greed: wealthy landowners, processors, exporters, transporters and speculators have everything to gain. Small and medium producers, who do the actual work, and people who want wholesome food, lose.

 

Bad decisions by government – 35: a short-sighted elitist, corporate friendly agricultural policy

“All I can see is a monster opportunity,” said Mr Paterson, before heading to China.

owen paterson on return from chinaIn the Financial Times, Louise Lucas describes DEFRA minister Owen Paterson’s steering of the latest attempts to ship food from Britain as a move “redolent of selling snow to Eskimos”.

She added “Britain is gearing up to sell more cheese to France, land of Camembert and hundreds of other sorts of cheese, and pork to China, home to half the world’s pigs”.

Who set this merry-go-round spinning?

In the mid-1990s, following heavy lobbying by banks, hedge funds and free market politicians in the US and Britain, regulations on commodity markets were steadily abolished. Contracts to buy and sell foods were turned into “derivatives” that could be bought and sold among traders who had nothing to do with agriculture. In effect a new, unreal market in “food speculation” was born.

Devon farmer Pippa Woods (FFA) and Kath Dalmeny (Sustain) disagree in “A Better CAP”: “The natural pattern of food production is for each country to use its own resources to feed itself as far as practicable”
ffassociation logo small

3.5 Doctrinaire theories that farming is just another industry and should be subject to international trade regulation to suit multi-national companies are causing untold misery all over the world. They completely distort the natural pattern of food production, which is for each country to use its own resources to feed itself as far as practicable.

Lancashire farmer Tom Rigby re the World Trade talks:

Tom - smallest 3The World Trade talks have ended in chaos. Outside the hall hungry farmers from across the world had been banging at the gates all week, the security fence just about held and thankfully there was little bloodshed . . . the only con­sensus seems to be amongst the farmers themselves, from the gates at Cancun to the FFA picket line, that the system does not seem to benefit us – so what is going wrong?

. . . They had come to protest at the injustice of using their markets as a disposal ground for our unwanted surplus, creating glut then famine, and despite all the recent reforms our detested system of intervention buying and export subsidies remains in place. (Farmers Guardian 19.9.03)

MH 2So who does benefit from the “mindless vortex quite unrelated to any conscious national purpose?” Cornish farmer Michael Hart, seen visiting US farmers on Transition TV, names a few:
  • Farmers don’t export anything but international traders do, so they are the ones who will benefit.
  • Processors and exporters are paid export subsidies to get rid of surplus production in the EU and USA caused by low farmgate prices which cause farmers (the world over) to increase production in order to survive and stay farming.
  • Major processors and retailers of the developed world want to deal with a few large farms – it makes their life much easier.
  • PCU adds another rich and powerful driving force: parasitic speculators. John Vidal explains: “The same banks, hedge funds and financiers whose speculation on the global money markets caused the sub-prime mortgage crisis are thought to be causing food prices to yo-yo and inflate. The charge against them is that by taking advantage of the deregulation of global commodity markets they are making billions from speculating on food and causing misery around the world”.
A resounding conclusion is provided by Peter Cruttwell quoting Paul Kennedy: “It is now beyond argument that it is the furious drive to manufacture and to export in order to finance imports, in a mindless vortex quite unrelated to any conscious national purpose, which is responsible for environmental destruction and resource depletion; and it is these distortions of the natural state which are largely responsible for fuelling the population explosion and for the seismic uprooting and urbanization of people by the billion around the world as they seek to respond with mesolithic brains and bodies to the twin imperatives of economics and technology”.