RURAL MANIFESTO LAUNCHED AT THE OXFORD REAL FARMING CONFERENCE, CALLS FOR “EQUALITY IN THE COUNTRYSIDE”
The Land Workers’ Alliance and The Land magazine have joined forces to produce a rural manifesto which aims to challenge the elitism that dominates rural policy. The manifesto is also supported by the Family Farmers Association.
The manifesto was launched at the Oxford Real Farming Conference on 6 January. It includes 46 action points, on matters such a housing, land ownership, agriculture and rural employment. These all have the common aim of making Britain’s rural land and resources more accessible to a wider constituency of people.
The manifesto is aimed primarily at the progressive parliamentary opposition. Simon Fairlie of The Land magazine stated:
“With a reinvigorated Labour opposition, and a body of Scottish Nationalists committed to land reform, we are now in a better position to challenge the dominating influence of the Country Land and Business Association, the National Farmers’ Union, and Scottish Land and Estates.”
Rebecca Laughton of the Land Workers’ Alliance, and a market gardener, stated:
”For decades, the number of farms and the number of farmworkers have declined remorselessy, while the cost of rural housing has become increasingly unaffordable. It is time we reversed these trends, and it is not rocket science to do so.”
A number of the action points are reproduced below.
The full manifesto, including original illustrations by Clifford Harper, is attached as a pdf at the foot of this email. It is embargoed until 6 January.
For more information please contact:
Ed Hamer of the Landworker’s Alliance: 07858 381539 edhamer@…
Simon Fairlie of The Land magazine: 01297 561359 chapter7@…
A SAMPLE OF RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION FROM THE MANIFESTO
• The Land Registry should not be privatized. The register of who owns which land should be completed, and made easily and freely accessible on line. A cadastral map for each municipality should be made publicly available at council offices, as it is in countries such as France and Spain.
• The sell-off of county farms should be halted (except where county farmland can be sold for development and the proceeds used to acquire more or better land). Local authorities should be re-empowered to acquire land for rent to small-scale farmers and new entrants where there is a proven need.
• Common Agricultural Policy direct subsidies should be capped at €150,000 per individual farmer, releasing an estimated £4million. The ceiling should be lowered progessively over time to a level that supports a wider range of thriving family farms.
• Much organically produced food and animal feed is not labelled as such because the costs of certification are too high for small-scale producers. The burden of labelling and certification should instead be borne by farmers who employ chemicals or other ecologically suspect practices, rather than by organic farmers. In other words, food products that have been produced using artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or genetically modified materials should be clearly labelled as such.
• Increase investment in council housing and social housing in villages.
• Measures should be taken to ensure that recently introduced government support for self-build housing is focussed on affordable housing, and not luxury housing.
• All rural local authorities to set targets within their area for the reduction of carbon emissions through renewable energy generation, including solar, wind and micro-hydro — especially community schemes; and through energy saving measures such as insulation of buildings.
• Support should be provided for the creation of “village service stations” in rural settlements that combine retail provision of food and essential goods with post-office and banking services, car-hire and minibus services, etc
• Include land management (horticulture, arable crops, animal husbandry, forestry etc) as a subject at secondary schools on a par with academic subjects.
• Reintroduce the fuel duty escalator, a ratcheted annual increase of carbon tax on petrol and diesel, including red diesel, with the proceeds earmarked for public transport provision.