Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Improve your food security - get a shotgun

DEFRA, fondly known in these parts as the Department for the Elimination of Farming and Rural Affairs, is making a big noise about its new consultation on 'Food Security'.

My immediate reaction was to think 'well, my food supply is secure thanks very much: I've got a 12-bore'. But this is too big a subject for flip answers.

Yes, I'm deeply suspicious of DEFRA. After FMD, Single Payments, bTB and the rest, it's hard to avoid getting the impression that DEFRA was created to wipe out British farming.

But the debate sparked by the DEFRA consultation is long overdue. Britain used to have a farming industry to be proud of. Generations of farmers held their heads high, producing wholesome healthy food in ways that were efficient, sustainable and beneficial to biodiversity and the environment (words few people had ever heard of back then, they just knew what was right). We bred some of the best livestock in the world, grew the best crops, and fed the country while the U-Boats prowled the seas. Oh, and we had some pretty amazing wildlife, with no help from the likes of EN, animal rights fanatics or the RSPB.

Since the end of WWII, the wheels have come off. Farming is just another business run for maximum short-term profit (often as not the supermarket's rather than the farmer's), with the added complication that UK and European government just can't keep its controlling, social-engineering fingers off.

Add to that the general urban view that the countryside belongs to them, and should be run as some sort of oversized municipal park for the benefit of ramblers and birdwatchers, and you end up with the dog's breakfast we have today. Huge sections of our once-proud farming industry are in terminal decline: dairy, upland sheep & beef... Rural village life in any meaningful sense is gone.

Reversing the trend will be hugely complicated. It's about much more than food (and why is the government so obsessed with the word 'security'?). A good starting point would be the Countryside Alliance Rural Manifesto, which has been studiously ignored by the BBC as well as by the government and others.

The DEFRA consultation will, of course, be seized on by every lobbyist and pressure group as a way to push their own agendas. Proponents of GM, supermarkets, vegetarians and others have jumped on the bandwagon.

Well guess what - Sporting Shooter readers already have the answer. I'm thinking of a handful of people in particular. They live on, off, and in harmony with the land. They are smallholders in the oldfashioned sense. They grow their own veg, keep a few cattle, sheep, hens and pigs. The muck goes on the fields, waste food goes in the pigs and chickens. They heat their houses with carbon-neutral timber from local woodlands. They shoot and eat a few deer, rabbits, pheasants, pigeon and wildfowl.

These are the people DEFRA, Europe and New Labour have done their best to wipe out - yet they've proved remarkably resilient. When the oil runs out, they'll be well-fed, warm, and laughing. And they'll have guns. Now that's security.


Meconopsis said...

Hi James.

Last week my shopping bill was £0.00 it has taken me 18 months to get here but it has been well worth it. You can live well on half an acre of ground.


sam said...

I often thought that the current government held the belief that the countryside consisted only of "enemy" voters and should be re-branded as a theme park for urbanites at the weekend.