The Landworkers’ Alliance is a union of farmers, growers, foresters and land-based workers.

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Why now, more than ever, we need a food system based on food sovereignty

Why now, more than ever, we need a food system based on food sovereignty
14/04/2020 Steph Wetherell

The Covid-19 pandemic is causing extreme suffering and disruption across society.  The pandemic is disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable and poorest people in our society – including those on low incomes, those with limited access to food and outdoor space, those in precarious employment, homeless people, and people with underlying health problems. Our social systems to help these people are  being pushed to the edge of what is possible, and we have seen incredible acts of solidarity and humanity from people and communities working hard to help.

It’s unclear how long Covid-19 will continue to spread, and when restrictions might ease.  But, what we do know is that we will not, and cannot, return back to ‘normal’. This crisis has highlighted that ‘normal’ is not a society that is resilient, fair, and just.  Now more than ever we need to look to build a society that puts people’s health first, builds solidarity and community, tackles inequality and addresses the biodiversity and climate crisis.

Covid-19 has highlighted the weakness in our food and land-use system. Global supply chains have been instantly affected, and our heavy reliance on imports [60% of our total supply], particularly from southern Europe is revealing how precarious our situation is. The last few weeks have seen a huge increase in demand from food banks just as they run out of food donations from supermarkets due to increased sales. We are facing a 60-80,000 person gap in the agricultural workforce due to travel restrictions, as we rely on migrant labour to harvest our crops. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation clearly warns that this crisis is likely to impact smaller scale farmers disproportionately, and as the average age of farmers in the UK is over 60, many farmers will have to take extra measures to self-isolate. In the long term we need to see thousands of new entrants into agroecology and eco-forestry to help re build our landuse systems.

What is clear now, more than ever, is the need to restructure our food system within the principles of food sovereignty.  We need stronger action at all levels of society and government to lead a just transition towards a food system that: ensures everyone has access to healthy and affordable food; values workers and producers; localises supply chains; and uses agroecological farming principles to ensure that our farming methods contribute positively to the climate and biodiversity crises that we face.  Our members are showing that this is possible, and we ask for your support to help build the food system that we all urgently need.

Over the coming weeks and months we will be campaigning on many of these individual issues, based around the key issues of food sovereignty. We’ll keep you updated as this progresses so watch out for newsletters, social media and blogs for more information.

In the meantime, here’s some actions you can take to support our work:

  • Sign our petition calling for an emergency package of support for landworkers
  • Join the LWA as a landworker member or supporter member and help build a future where everybody can access local, healthy, affordable food, fuel and fibre from producers they can trust.
  • Donate to our Solidarity Pot to help support landworkers through challenging times

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