24 February 2015

Letter from CWF

"Dear Mr Loynes,

I am writing to you as one of my constituency’s candidates in the forthcoming general election to ask that you promote a humane and sustainable farming system in the new parliament.

We need to introduce high standards of farm animal welfare. It is time to phase out production that uses cages and crates as they thwart the basic instincts of many animals to roam, forage and explore. Animals should be kept in outdoor systems or, if they are housed, they should be kept in large barns with ample space, plenty of straw, natural light and effective ventilation.

Genetic selection for fast growth or high yields should be avoided if this results in compromised welfare and systems should not be used if they require mutilations. We need to encourage the adoption of balanced diets with a lower proportion of meat. This would deliver health benefits by reducing the incidence of heart disease, obesity and certain cancers; it would also lower greenhouse gas emissions. Although more crops would be needed for direct human consumption, this would be outweighed by a reduction in demand for feed crops.

Farming provides valuable income to many rural communities. There should be a particular focus on higher welfare production that delivers a better quality of food and a higher income to those farmers at the farmgate, benefitting both the farmer and the wider community through added value.

Much livestock production in the UK is industrial in nature. 60% of EU cereal is used as animal feed. For every 100 calories that we feed to animals in the form of human edible crops, we receive on average just 17-30 calories in the form of meat and milk. We need to avoid excessive use of cereals and put more emphasis on restoring the link between animals and the land. We need to promote diets that include less but higher welfare meat in order to deliver a farming system that is less intensive, with less reliance on fertilisers and pesticides. This would mean reduced degradation of water, soil and air and lower use of water, land and energy as well as biodiversity gains. It would also enable animals to be kept to higher welfare standards.

Across Europe, around 700 million farm animals (hens, sows, rabbits, ducks and quail) spend some or all of their life confined in cramped, often barren cages. Cages should be consigned to the history books and food production should be developed using extensive, outdoor and cage free systems. Sustainable farming that nourishes our health, the environment and promotes higher animal welfare must become the rule, not the exception.

 For further information on these issues, Compassion in World Farming has produced a Charter which sets out a proposed future direction of travel. It can be found here http://www.ciwf.org.uk/charter and is supported by further details in briefing notes, which can be found here: http://www.ciwf.org.uk/charter-briefing-notes

 I hope you will feel able to support these policy suggestions and work towards realising them – in the UK and by taking a lead in Europe.

  Yours sincerely,

 Heather Marshall"

Chris Loynes response:

Monday 23 February 2015

A humane and sustainable future for farming

Like you and like Compassion in World Farming I have been concerned about how the world produces our food and the trends that production is taking at home and abroad. I have been largely vegetarian (I occasionally eat wild meat that I know has lived a good life and died humanely) for decades, grow significant amounts of my own food and campaign for organic food, Via Campesina (I marched with them  at COP16 in Copenhagen) and animal rights. Agriculture faces one of the biggest challenges if it is to raise the standard of welfare, reduce reliance on antibiotics and decarbonise. It is an industry that will need a great deal of help to transform its relationship with the land and with the market. And in developing countries it is the men and women still living from the land that can argue most strongly for a different way forward that does not rely on an industrial model for everyone.

I'm glad to say that everything you suggest in your email is sound policy that if elected I would support. It also fits very well with Green Party policy of course. At local level I will work with farmers, suppliers and retailers to help them find ways to more humane and sustainable practices, develop local markets to shorten the supply chain and receive a proper price for their produce. I am curious about extending the fair trade idea to Cumbrian and UK produce as a way to highlight good practices. I am actively involved in the promotion of the Ulverston indoor and outdoor markets where we plan to emphasise local, fairly traded and organic produce.

Please consider voting Green to give me in this general election and future candidates for local elections a better chance to argue for change. Every vote makes a difference by supporting our lobbying activity even if we are not first passed the post. And with the Green Surge there is all to play for! Help us to send a bold message to the other parties that more of the same is not acceptable.

Best wishes

Chris Loynes
ppc Westmorland and Lonsdale Green Party