Why Local farming is important
Updated: Jun 6, 2019
I just read an article that was published in the Guardian recently and was summarised in last week's 'The Week'. It was a sobering read. In the article, the plight of America's farms was discussed. What's happened is that they have mega intensive farming corporations called Cafos (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).
It's a frightening, almost dystopian acronym and what happens in them is as bad as the images it portrays - thousands of animals squeezed into huge complexes, some with semi-automated feeding so real people don't have to be involved.
According to the article, the US has 250,000 of these farms. The thing is, how do you feed all those animals? The US used to have thousands of smaller farms but with Cafos controlling the animal production market, they couldn't compete so they either disappeared and got swallowed up by Cafos or they had to grow corn and soya beans to feed the animals in Cafos so they lost diversity in what they grew. They are totally dominant now and the mid-west has been decimated in terms of local farming and of course, all the communities have suffered because there are less and less families because their farms have gone. It's a hungry machine that has swallowed up the small and with it diversity, a bit like what's happened with the fearsome biotech companies like Monsanto. If you didn't know, Monsanto are one of the biggest global players in the genetically modified seed producers. Without going off in a massive tangent, through its corporate machine, Monsanto has taking a massive slice out of the diversity of seeds, its impact felt at the country level where a lack of diversity has caused wide-spread crop failure when disease affected everyone instead of just a few. Diversity gives strength and resilience and Cafos is about standardisation, homogeneity.
Why is this important in the UK?
Well you may have heard of the US practice of washing chickens in chlorine in the news recently. The US is trying to access the UK post-brexit food market with the power of Cafos. If our meat trade barriers are down and Cafos can compete with British farming on an equal footing, where Cafos means awful animal welfare and the concentrated nature of their farming techniques, then how will British farming compete without lowering our standards and then it will be our local farmers under even more pressure. Let's hope that doesn't happen. There is enough pressure from supermarkets without introducing American Cafos approaches. Let me be clear, I'm not anti-American but I'm anti-Cafos.
That's one of the reasons I set up Be Locals. Local produce, produced ethically, for local people.