Who is going to feed us?
N J Snelgar FRSA
The most terrifying statement a farmer can make to the ordinary Joe is ’well Nick, it’s simply not worth doing.’ This chillingly awful remark is often brought out towards the end of a discussion on meat, chicken and even arable production. What are we to think? Does the food chain suddenly shorten and end here? What does he mean? He (or she) has command of the land and of the means of production and he, or she, is telling me - the petrified consumer of all of their work - that it’s no longer worthwhile, that it’s no longer earning them a drink! Basically we, the honest Joe, can whistle for our meat and milk: go on – get it from abroad. So all the 40 years of subsidy and the continuing annual payment of £100 per year for every acre you own is not enough to keep your labour lively, and to make sure you feed us Joes for ever? Well thanks.
Our local 200 cow dairy employing every economy of scale you could possibly dream up, and being managed by a red-hot industrial farmer (well-known in the area for his ravenous industrial skills): that well-known dairy selling to M&S Foods (hardly a non-discerning food business judging by it’s adverts and the beautiful women associated with it) has closed for business. There you go.
So either we can all give up and simply long for all cows to be housed in a giant ‘World Shed’ somewhere in a temperate climate with perhaps one person and a robot to look after the world’s dairy cows (say, Dr. No) or we can insist on another approach: the approach that involves small energetic micro-dairies run by optimistic radical runaways who process and sell their precious fresh milk to the absolute doorstep of each one of us. We shall have to pay maybe £1 per litre delivered to our homes on a Monday and a Friday afternoon when we are at home to have a chat and to pay over the ‘hard earned’, but how much of a hardship is that?
We have to round up and dispel the myth that ‘big farms will provide endlessly’ because they won’t. We must turn to our tribal groups and think about how they would feed themselves, literally by their own means. Then go and talk to local farmers who have been sold down the river to subsidy destruction and say - can WE help? Can we consume everything you currently produce? Can you produce some other things we need - you know, simple things like milk and flour and potatoes? See what they say? Make them feel part of the food world because they really are, and they are simply and tragically overlooked.
Print this off and take it to a local farmer and see what they say, and then tell me!
N. J. Snelgar