Former Intensive livestock Farmer says ‘ We need a complete change of Agricultural direction’.

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Since World War 2 British farming has failed miserably to feed our nation, we now import more than 50% of our food, and rising – at great cost to our balance of payments.

The introduction of chemical and intensive farming has degraded our soils, devastated our natural environment and decimated our native wildlife from flora through insects, birds, hedgehogs, and other species too numerous to mention.
Basically the native wildlife chain has almost been destroyed, what is left is a desert for most of our native wild creatures and even such as the fox have very little native prey to survive on.

Todays farmed animals (sentient creatures) are treated like machines and subjected to wholly unnatural environments because of the pressures of failed agricultural economics or perverse ideology.

I am ashamed to admit that in my early 20s (50 years ago) I was involved in the intensive stock keeping of pigs and broiler chicken. I soon realised how unethical it is to take advantage of another creature by caging or cramming them together in pursuit of profit simply because:

a. I had both the power to do so against defenceless creatures.
b. Being mentally immature I was indifferent to what I was doing.
I observed the change in behaviour of the crated pigs, they were distressed at being confined for long periods.
In the case of the chickens there were such measures as debeaking to stop them pecking one another and measures to prevent or control disease, measures which are not necessary where chickens are free to roam in more natural conditions.
It is natural for both pig and chicken to be outside rooting and scratching about, the natural environment of both species is forest/woodland but they are content so long as they can be free to roam around in large pens which are not overcrowded.

I am (including my wife) now determined to never allow stock in our control and on our land to be subjected to conditions too far removed from and distinctly alien to their nature.
Organic farming principles for pigs, sheep, and fowl is more humane than intensive stock rearing.
Our farm is Soil Association registered for 2 main reasons:
1. The reasonable treatment of farm stock.
2. Helping the environment.

We have the highest human population (overpopulation) and one of the lowest tree cover of any major European nation. We are covering our agricultural land with development and importing most of our timber (either directly or as finished products). Furthermore we are placing the nations citizens at future food shortage risk whilst at the same time encouraging our external food suppliers to follow our example in destroying their environments to supply us.

Our farming industry not only causes environmental problems but certain uncaring people use our native wild animals as scapegoats as or are in denial of the fact that humans have caused the problems.

Many Britons are critical or concerned over the loss of habitat and wildlife in other nations.
Objectively scrutinised our apparently green and pleasant land is nothing of the sort, in terms of environmental destruction we are streets ahead of most other nations.
I’m old enough to remember what we had 60 years ago, schemes such as set asides and wildlife margins, charity managed wildlife reserves etc. can only scratch the surface, they will not bring back real native diversity.

We need a complete change of Agricultural direction.
If we have any chance of feeding our nation whilst also bringing back natural diversity (not all of which may now be possible) we need to make better use of our land.
Suggestions that GMOs, cross breeding, genetic manipulation, further intensification etc. are pie in the sky ideas which will not solve our problems, those ideas have come about in an attempt to resolve the catch 22 hole that we are digging ourselves further into.

One of the main culprits is the huge of waste of agricultural produce being used to feed farm animals. In particular the beef and dairy industry which is rated as the most inefficient and destructive industry on the planet. The products produced are of no particular nutritional benefit to the nation, some of them may actually be placing a burden on our health system.
The cattle industry uses approx. 10x as much land as vegetables would to produce as much food and wastes huge amounts of water.

If we want to resolve our problems, set better standards for animal care, feed our people, improve our environment, make room for more natural vegetation, have healthier people, clean up our water supplies, cease the excessive use of antibiotics in farm stock we need to go organic. We need to grow products which can be directly fed to our population such as beans, peas, other pulses, and a wide range of vegetables. If we only import such products as soya for direct human consumption such volumes will be relatively low compared with the volumes and destruction associated with feeding livestock.

Yes; more people will be needed to work on the land but probably in proportion to useful output of nutritional crops.
The man on his allotment produces considerably more nutritional value per given area than today’s farming practices without the need for polluting chemicals or animal manure to do so.

The whole is a complex matter which cannot be explained or dealt within a simple email.

I should add that there are many other people, including farmers, of similar view to mine.

Yours sincerely

Graham Cooper
Hollacombe Farm, Crediton, Devon.

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