Kindling member Emily joined other regional members of the Land Workers Alliance (LWA) earlier this month for a crash course on the global Food Sovereignty movement and UK Agricultural Policy, as well as loads of great ideas on how we can all actively campaign for the interests of small hold farmers. Here's what she learned...
"As a member of the largest global alliance of peasant farmers, La Via Campensina, the LWA was founded on principles of Food Sovereignty. This means that the LWA sees food as a human right and not a commodity, a right which governments have an obligation to fulfil by ensuring that all citizens have access to affordable healthy food.
Agroecological farming is seen as fundamental to achieving this right as it is centred on working with natural systems to produce food while at the same time improving soils and water catchments and enhancing biodiversity. In this sense it is a sustainable system of agriculture that is more diverse than large scale agribusiness practices, with different parts of an agroecological farm working together as part of an integrated system.
With the uncertainty of what a post-Brexit deal may mean for UK agriculture, the LWA are keen to use this moment as an opportunity to advance the interests of smallholder farmers and ensure that agro-ecological farming practices are protected and encouraged.
The LWA has developed key policy recommendations that seek to address issues of farm consolidation, loss of agricultural jobs and an increasing shift towards mechanised corporate farms. In their new report the LWA has outlined several key policies that would serve to protect farmers across the UK, such as introducing a Grocery Code Adjudicator that would ensure farmers are paid a fair price for their produce.
Some of you might be thinking, this all sounds great but why do we need to promote these policies, isn't this just common sense?
Well, unfortunately the stance of the UK government has historically been geared more towards the interests of corporate agribusiness than small scale agroecological farmers. This has had really negative impacts on the environment and on the diversity of the UK farming sector, which is shrinking at a rate of 9 farms per day (largely long held family businesses).
Others might say, ‘Supporting small scale farmers is all well and good, but you can't feed the whole country that way’.
Well, thanks to the recent research efforts of the LWA, we know that small scale agroecological farms (of 20ha and less) are actually capable of producing comparable or higher yields of vegetables and fruit than average UK farms. This is coupled with the fact that small scale growing creates more meaningful jobs by reconnecting people with where their food has come from and relies on significantly less subsidies to sustain.
Similarly, it is a common misconception to think that our food is produced mostly by large scale agribusiness, 70% of the world's food is actually produced by smallholder farmers, yet who only use 30% of the world's resources. When comparing this with the environmental impact of large agribusiness that consumes 70% of global resources - supporting small scale farming and making it a viable livelihood for growers across the UK clearly makes sense.
The LWA is keen for its members and supporters to advocate for the rights of small scale farmers and for our shared human right to healthy food, especially now that current agricultural protections afforded by the European Union Common Agricultural Policy could be about to vanish.
So if you would like to get involved with the work of the LWA or are passionate about sustainable food then why not come along the LWA Annual General Meeting 2nd - 4th December in Beccles, Suffolk. Similarly if you would be interested in becoming a member or a supporter of the LWA and supporting efforts to forge a sustainable food future for us all then please check out the website: www.landworkersalliance.org.uk."