Simon Fairlie vs George Monbiot – ‘Mixed Organic Agriculture vs Vegan’ debate

This debate between Simon Fairlie and George Monbiot organised and hosted by the Dartington Trust was held at Schumacher College, Dartington earlier this year.

Simon and George have been debating meat eating, veganism, rewilding and now precision fermentation of food for many years. Both speakers offer very persuasive and different visions of where our food should, in their opinion, come from.

The Speakers:
George Monbiot is an author, Guardian columnist and environmental activist. His best-selling books include Feral: Rewilding the land, sea and human life, Heat: how to stop the planet burning; and Out of the Wreckage: a new politics for an age of crisis. George cowrote the concept album Breaking the Spell of Loneliness with musician Ewan McLennan. His viral videos include How Wolves Change Rivers (viewed on YouTube over 40m times) and Nature Now, co-presented with Greta Thunberg (over 60m views). George’s latest book, Regenesis: Feeding the World without Devouring the Planet, was published in May 2022.

Simon Fairlie worked for twenty years variously as an agricultural labourer, vine worker, shepherd, fisherman, builder and stonemason before being ensnared by the computer in 1990. He was a coeditor of The Ecologist magazine for four years until he joined Tinkers’ Bubble community in 1994 where he managed the cows, pigs and a working horse. He now runs a micro dairy at Monkton Wyld Court, a charity and cooperative in rural Dorset. Simon is a founding editor of The Land magazine, and he earns a living by selling scythes. He is the author of Low Impact Development: Planning and People in a Sustainable Countryside (1996) and Meat: A Benign Extravagance (2010) and a memoir, Going to Seed (2022)

This debate was about the sustainability of livestock farming in view of the environmental crisis and not limited to striking the balance between agricultural sustainability and maximising agricultural production capability. However, interesting perspective may be further obtained by cross referencing with an older article Can Britain Feed Itself? by Simon Fairlie published in 2007 in Issue-4 of The Land Magazine which, in posing the question of whether or not Britain could feed itself within its existing agricultural acres, compared different farming systems such as Chemical with Livestock (no good), Chemical Vegan, Organic Vegan, Organic with Livestock, Livestock Permaculture & a system (referred to as “Mellanby’s Basic Diet 1975”) in which the population would hypothetically be restricted in their consumption to a basic diet (less meat) based on the analysis by Scottish ecologist Kenneth Mellanby in his 1975 book “Can Britain Feed Itself?”

Can Britain Feed Itself? by Simon Fairlie (2007), The Land Magazine

UK’s Post-Brexit Agricultural-Support system for environmental protection – the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS)

In moving away post-Brexit from the the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the UK government planned to move the agricultural-subsidy system for the UK farming industry towards one which linked subsidies to land protection, environmental protection, enhancing biodiversity and conservation measures – all under a new system named the Environmental Land Management Scheme” (ELMS). The scheme will provide payments for farming that improves the environment and relieves climate change, such as hedge planting and river management initiatives and initiatives to increase biodiversity, restore landscapes, promote animal welfare and increase productivity through investment in new equipment and technology. The Act provides for a seven-year agricultural transition period (although that can be extended) from 2021 to 2027. The Agriculture Act, passed in November 2020, set a legislative framework for the new subsidy regime in England, including the list of ‘public goods’ for which subsidies may be paid. Shortly afterwards, Defra published an updated plan, The Path to Sustainable Farming: An Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024.

To transition to this new system, a Basic Payment Scheme was put in place with funding for Direct Payments for 2020 continued at the same level as 2019 to supplement the remaining EU funding that farmers will have received for development projects until 2023. During that time, BPS will be phased out and new financial assistance schemes will be phased in. The Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme will replace basic payments to farmers in England. In late September 2022 Defra rushed to quash news stories that its new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) farming policy to replace the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was being halted.


ELMS: Where are we now?


The government has announced its long-awaited system of subsidies for Environmental Land Management (ELM). So, what’s new? We break down the progress made with ELMs to date, and where it’s heading in the future.

Having caused widespread concern by announcing a review into the viability of the ELMs scheme in late 2022, there was speculation that the subsidy would be axed entirely, with a return to a CAP-style system defined by area based payments. Nonetheless, it was confirmed that ELM would be implemented, split into three unique, but integrated levels; Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI), Countryside Stewardship “plus”, and Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS). Despite this confirmation, however, it was unclear not only who could access the schemes and the specific details of their implementation, but exactly how much farmers and land managers would be paid for certain actions.

Today however, the government announced the payment rates for the three tiers. Therese Coffey, alongside this announcement, told land managers that “we are speeding up the rollout of our farming schemes so that everyone can be financially supported as they protect the planet while producing food more sustainably.” It is hoped that this will allow the sector to have a clearer picture for the future, and can finally start making plans for getting paid to create “public good” such as clean water, biodiversity uplift and woodland creation.

Applications for some of the payments will open in February, with others to follow in March, and some will be rolled out later in the year and next year. LNR is being trialled throughout 2023 with the hope that all eligible applicants can apply from the end of 2024. Payments under the English Woodland Creation Offer continue to be available, as well as Countryside Stewardship applications having recently opened. Land managers hoping to apply will have to keep a close watch for Defra’s announcements, given the staged rollout of availability. Nonetheless, the ELM announcements represent a crucial step forward for environmental-based payments in the land sector, bringing some much needed clarity and long-awaited peace of mind.

In such a critical time for the land sector, though, it is imperative that land managers and farmers are continued to be empowered to make sustainable decisions and access funding to produce public goods.

To avoid a piecemeal approach to restoring ecosystems through ELMS, interventions must be designed collaboratively and at the landscape level, to ensure maximum ecological and financial benefit is brought about by these schemes. Having the ability to assess and baseline your land, habitat assessment and co-design land management plans has never been more important.

Squatters’ Rights: Ken on claiming unregistered unused land as your own, or ‘Adverse Possession’

REDISTRIBUTE NATURAL WEALTH NOW! How to claim your own land

Prior to the coming into force of the Land Registration Act 2002, a squatter could acquire the right to be registered as proprietor of a registered estate if they had been in adverse possession of the land for a minimum of 12 years. However, the doctrine of adverse possession did not fit easily with the concept of indefeasibility of title that underlies the system of land registration. Nor could it be justified by the uncertainties as to ownership which can arise where land is unregistered; the legal estate is vested in the registered proprietor and they are identified in the register.

More from Ken at Kerrbear Adventures

The Land Registration Act 2002 has created a new regime that applies only to registered land. This new regime is set out in Schedule 6 to the Act. It makes it more likely that a registered proprietor will be able to prevent an application for adverse possession of their land being completed. The following paragraphs provide a brief overview of the new regime; the remaining sections of this guide discuss it in more detail.

adverse possession of registered land for 12 years of itself will no longer affect the registered proprietor’s title

after 10 years’ adverse possession, the squatter will be entitled to apply to be registered as proprietor in place of the registered proprietor of the land

on such an application being made the registered proprietor (and certain other persons interested in the land) will be notified and given the opportunity to oppose the application

if the application is not opposed (by ‘opposed’ we mean that a counter notice is served; see Giving counter notice to the registrar in response to notice. Instead, or at the same time, the registered proprietor may object to the application on the ground that there has not been the necessary 10 years’ adverse possession; see Objecting to the squatter’s application for the implications of such an objection.), the squatter will be registered as proprietor in place of the registered proprietor of the land

if the application is opposed, it will be rejected unless either

it would be unconscionable because of an equity by estoppel for the registered proprietor to seek to dispossess the squatter and the squatter ought in the circumstances to be registered as proprietor
the squatter is for some other reason entitled to be registered as proprietor

the squatter has been in adverse possession of land adjacent to their own under the mistaken but reasonable belief that they are the owner of it, the exact line of the boundary with this adjacent land has not been determined and the estate to which the application relates was registered more than a year prior to the date of the application.

in the event that the application is rejected but the squatter remains in adverse possession for a further 2 years, they will then be able, subject to certain exceptions, to reapply to be registered as proprietor and this time will be so registered whether or not anyone opposes the application

Open Letter to the Guardian – Response to the Guardian Editorial on Wed 15th February 2023 – “The Guardian view on Labour and antisemitism: two cheers for Keir Starmer”

Response to the Guardian Editorial on Wed 15th February 2023 – “The Guardian view on Labour and antisemitism: two cheers for Keir Starmer”

On 28th February 2023, I sent the following letter in response to the Guardian Editorial mentioned above to Guardian Letters ( for publication on the Guardian Letters page. One month on, the Guardian Letters’ Editor Rory Foster has confirmed it was considered but not published.

The Land Is Ours  28Feb23 letter to The Guardian:

The Guardian view on Labour and antisemitism: two cheers for Keir Starmer, 15 February stated that Jeremy Corbyn was “too slow and too defensive” in dealing with antisemitism in the Labour Party under his leadership. This is demonstrably untrue. Al Jazeera’s three-part documentary series, titled “The Labour Files: The Purge” exposed how rather than failing to build a functioning complaints and disciplinary process capable of dealing with allegations of antisemitism, the vast majority of cases reported were reported BEFORE Corbyn overhauled and re-organised Labour’s complaints and disciplinary process dealing with antisemitism. The documentary revealed Corbyn’s leadership team were undermined by officials within the party’s governance and legal unit.

The headliner being constantly repeated to paint Corbyn as having been responsible for antisemitism is that “the party under Corbyn broke the law and discriminated against Jews”. Whereas the statement broad and sweeping as it is is true, it is also misleading for the reasons just mentioned, but credit where credit is due. It is a smear which has been orchestrated quite brilliantly, to denigrate the reputation of a man who has spent his life fighting antisemitism and all forms of racism. Furthermore, of those who were investigated for antisemitism in the Labour Party, a disproportionate number were actually Jewish – in all cases for criticizing the conduct of the Israeli state. This whole episode may speak volumes about the extent of the reach of the Israeli state in influencing our politics. In 2017, a senior political officer at the Israeli Embassy in London was secretly filmed talking about how he would like to “take down” UK foreign office minister Alan Duncan, a vocal opponent of illegal Israeli settlement building in the West Bank. Food for thought.

Mark Simon Brown, The Land is Ours (UK landrights campaign)