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UK self-sufficiency and localisation of food supply chains from British Farms should now be the Government priority. Not vanity-led trade deals that undermine them

Globalisation as we knew it before the age of Lockdowns is over. We may not feel it, understand it or in most cases even see it. But the World has been changed by the chain reaction that was set in motion by the COVID Pandemic.

Daylight is now beginning to shine upon all the hidden, self-serving and myopic powers that influence our way of life. They are coming together in a concert of chaos with COVID conducting the orchestra – right at the fore.

It may sound dramatic. But the subjectivity and focus we have on everything beyond our own lives and the bubbles we unwittingly live in make it easy for us to ignore how things really are at the objective level. We are and have been living through significant National and World events that have consequences neither we, but even more importantly our politicians, can or now will avoid.

Loss of the realism that a genuine overview provides leaves us out of touch with the reality of what is happening. We take for granted that daily life will always go on as it has and that everything continues in the same way.

Yet the assumption that an encyclopaedic range of foods and products will always meet us when we walk through the supermarket doors or click online is a storybook waiting for a bad ending. And that ending is now almost certain to emerge.

Whilst the Government, media and the establishment they serve tell us that everything will return to the pre-COVID ‘normal’, concocted narratives cannot change nor head off the impact and consequences of the decisions they made, the money they created then spent, and the stories they have told to control people during a pandemic.  

The change is already underway. We can already see it in the questions over home working and many revaluating where they wish to live. Change will touch everything, and this will include even the most basic parts of life, including the clothes we wear and the food that we eat.

We simply don’t need all the things that we buy, eat or drink, and many of us already know and understand this. Whilst it may sound moralistic to say so, it is certainly no coincidence that as a population we are becoming so unhealthy when we are happy sleepwalking through life in the way that we do.

The good, wholesome, locally and ethically produced foods that we genuinely need to live and feed ourselves would not be expensive if we prioritised production using the most localised supply chains possible. It could mean the ingredients of the meals we eat have not travelled outside of our own County boundaries or been carried much further on their journey from farm to fork.

Some may snort at the mere suggestion of returning to a world where butchers, bakers and every kind of traditional village shop or business sell you the produce and goods that have come to them for preparation from local farms and producers.

But this is the way that the world we know will go if it is again to begin making any kind of sense, and we do not need the Government or ambitious Ministers attempting to open up trade flow to Countries that will undercut our own farmers and producers. Indeed, the Countries that Trade Ministers are now talking to should be actively and demonstratively encouraged to develop their own enhanced forms of productivity as we all work towards the level of national and localised self-sufficiency that the post-COVID World and the collapse of global Supply chains will soon demand.

In the simplest terms, the rise and threat of what has been called the ‘Indian variant’ of COVID demonstrates some of the starkest lessons of how this virus works. The ZERO COVID solution that this Government has tied itself to will at some point have to be flipped to become one that we learn to live with it and treat it the same as we do the Flu.

Whether we continue going forward under the premise that COVID control is the only priority or change and accept that there are other ways to live, we can no longer allow or encourage the mass movement of people or encourage unnecessary international supply chains just for the sake of making profit in any way.

Borders will literally have to become borders once again. No matter how much we might we deserve that foreign holiday, we are no longer living in a world where there will continue to be one rule for ‘wealthy’ countries and another for all those that the ignorant and greedy thumb their noses at and call poor.

Viruses and the impacts of ill-considered human behaviour do not recognise boundaries. They have consequences for us all.

For better or worse, COVID is a virus that is here to stay. Global eradication is not possible with the political mindset that the world currently has, and we will soon have no option but to learn and act upon the realities that the spread of a respiratory disease through an interconnected version of the World presents.

Meanwhile, the decision making and behaviours of politicians, banks ad big business as they have struggled to maintain control during the Covid Pandemic has led them to supercharge the growth of the many problems that greed and profiteering have created.

Going local, real localism and putting our communities at the forefront of everything we build our lives around will now become key to addressing the change that events will create and to become happy and content in ways that we have culturally long since forgot.

Farmers, producers and those who run and maintain very local services and cottage industry businesses are going to be key. Allowing any foreign country to undercut local production of any kind – no matter our historic ties – will quickly become one of the greatest acts of economic self-harm in the post-COVID world.

This is not about having a downer on Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA or any Country with which we might have once found it desirable to extend trade with. All Countries across the World are going to have to face up to the realities of the step away from globalisation to closed borders and what this really means for prioritising local production too.

Self-sufficiency for food and essential goods must become both a National and Government priority for the UK. Within this, we must look to promote and encourage everyone to shop and focus what they do and the lives they live locally in pretty much the complete opposite way that globalisation and the greed that underpins it has done.

Government must guide and support the development of truly local cooperatives. Legislators must embrace and utilise the freedom we have following our unshackling from the EU to legislate in ways that mean it is both practical and cost effective for every service that businesses require to produce and manufacture locally will not only exist but will thrive in such ways that lead to local products and services being made available to everyone at prices even the poorest in society can afford.

Local Enterprise Partnerships or alternative bodies like them should be used to join up the dots and encourage this growth locally.

Instead of encouraging agriculture and food production to become ever more focused on ‘cost effective’ production that means they increasingly only become viable with the economies of scale and size, our legislators must look at regulating and restricting all of the malign influences that take money out of the supply chain, thereby increasing end-user cost. They are currently adding no value, as part of an equation that increasingly leaves heathy food being a luxury that only the financially wealthy can afford.

Farm shops, farmers markets and the systems of local production that can and must feed into them must be the direction of travel. We must reject the reliance upon retail giants and a system where shareholders and financial speculators make ridiculous sums of money after the companies they ‘own’ can appear to move goods around the planet more cheaply than our own producers can make them. The practice where supermarket buyers crush any farmers ability to both supply them and remain profitable must come to its end.

British Farmers are some of the most innovative and entrepreneurial members of society that we have. There is little doubt that if we both embrace and support the role that they can and will willingly then take within a new and diversified platform for UK food growing and production, the true value to us all of the wider rural and agricultural sector and the community that underpins it will come into its own and be good for us all.

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