Landworkers’ Alliance comment on newly-appointed Environment Secretary

The Landworkers’ Alliance welcomes the announcement from newly-appointed Environment Secretary Michael Gove that he intends to ‘put farmers at the heart of policy making’. Despite the Secretary’s limited experience in the environment, food or rural affairs sectors he has made it clear that he is determined to engage farmers more directly with Defra’s policy making process.

We also welcome the Secretary’s announcement on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning that he wants the opportunity to listen to the whole of the farming sector. Mr Gove said: ‘I’m hoping to talk to the National Farmers’ Union and others, because I think that the right approach to take as Secretary of State in a new department is to exercise appropriate humility and listen and learn.’

Bearing this in mind it is hoped that the Secretary will not mistake ‘consulting with the NFU’ as ‘consulting with the whole of the farming sector’. Ed Hamer, LWA spokesperson says: ‘As we enter the most significant period of change in UK agriculture for a generation it is essential that the Secretary of State recognises and engages with the breadth of agriculture practiced across the country.’

‘As an emerging farming union supported by a younger demographic the LWA represents a growing number of stakeholders in the Brexit consultations. While we share the NFU’s position on a handful of key policies our members also have contrasting views, particularly on direct payments, commodities and sustainable intensification. We would like to take the new Secretary of State at his word and welcome the opportunity to present our recently published manifesto to him directly.’

The LWA has recently launched a 20-page manifesto; Making Food Sovereignty a Reality: Recommendations for Post-Brexit Agricultural Policy; that outlines a clear vision for delivering high quality food to local, regional & national markets while supporting truly resilient farming.

Read the document here

 

La Via Campesina 7th Conference in Basque Country

(Harare, May 25, 2017) “We feed our peoples and build the movement to change the world!” This is the call carrying hundreds of delegates of La Vía Campesina, the international peasant movement, to the Basque Country from the 16th to the 24th of July to celebrate their 7th Conference.

The International Conference of La Via Campesina (LVC), held every four years, is the highest forum gathering representatives from member organisations of peasants, small and medium size producers, landless people, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from all over the world. Collectively representing over 200 million people, these delegates will decide common strategies and host internal debates for the growing global movement.

For a week in Derio, Basque Country, representatives will discuss local experiences as well as international processes such as  the Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas or the negotiations for an international legally binding instrument against the abuse of multinational corporations  in the UN Human Rights Council. The different regions of LVC will also present their struggles, such as the European region’s struggle for a new Common Agricultural Policy and reform against the concentration of land; the struggle in Africa, for seed sovereignty; of the Latin American struggle for popular agrarian reform and against corporate interest; and the campaigns of the Asian regions against free trade agreements (FTAs), GMOs and the challenge faced by some of their areas in light of rising sea levels due to climate change.

A particular focus will be given to issues such as: the impact of FTAs ​​on Food Sovereignty, corporate capture and patenting of seeds, criminalization of the movement and even the murder of leaders, peasant solutions to climate change and agroecology as a way of exercising Food Sovereignty in our territories. There will be events open to the public scheduled for July 19 in Derio (for the opening of the Conference) and on July 23 in a march from Dario to the Plaza Nueva in Bilbao, where a public political event will be held.

At a time where, on the one hand, the importance of food chains is gaining ground in public opinion, but on the other, global abuses against peasant communities intensify, the conclusions of this meeting aim to be a significant advance in the struggle for Food Sovereignty, in turn to strengthen the work carried out by La Via Campesina for the realization of peasants’ rights and, therefore, peace and justice in rural communities and the world.

Become a Supporter of the LWA

The Landworkers’ Alliance has always restricted membership to people who meet our membership criteria. This is because the LWA is part of La Via Campesina, an international union of unions, representing the rights of small producers around the world. The integrity of the LWA and La Via Campesina come from the fact that ALL of our members are land workers, and that our lives and livelihoods are what is at stake when making our demands.

We also know that in the UK hundreds of years of policies have devastated the rural, land worker population. While very few of us are actually land workers, many many of us support the rights of land workers. In some way many of us know that somewhere in our past we did have land, and our ancestors were forced off it and into cities. Hence, while our circumstances prevent us from being land workers now, we support the work of the Land Workers Alliance.

The LWA really appreciate this. Small scale producers are very few, but people who want to eat great quality food are many. We can’t have a movement for small scale production without our collective voices. Producer or non-producer, we are all part of this movement to create a just food system that nourishes this country, both the people and the land, with the best quality food produced with respect.

So, to respect both the membership criteria of La Via Campesina, and the understanding that this movement is a movement for EVERYONE, the LWA are now offering Supporter Memberships.

Become a Supporter

Add your voice to the movement! Join the LWA as a supporter!

Land Skills Day – June 10th

How to Make Your Land Based Business Work

The LWA Land Skills day is returning for it’s second year! Here from a huge range of inspiring speakers and practioners sharing their skills and insights into how they make their land based businesses work.

Book Now


Check out the sensational speaker line up:

Elanor Burgess: Somerset BeeKeeping Inspector
Beekeeping products and enhancing your income

 

Nicky Scott: Devon Community Composting
Composting

Frank Gundry-White: The Travelling Tool Box,
Drop In Come and repair and Sharpen tools

Ed Hamer: Chagfood, Community Market Garden,
Setting up a CSA Vege Box Scheme

Lauren Simpson and Phil Moore:
Crowdfunding & Share Offers – Reaching your community. Case study: The Ecological Land Co-operative

Rebecca Laughton: Author of Surviving and Thriving on the Land
Rural Workers Dwellings What the Planners are looking for

Pedro Brace, Tinkers Bubble: 
Working with horses, logging and carting.

Lynne Davis, Street Goat:
How to set up a goat CSA

Lucy Otto, The Fold:
Running a market garden supported by care farming

Anne Robins, Herbalist:
How to make balms and salves with home grown ingredients

Jyoti Fernandes and Adam Payne
Beginners guide to a political movement

Patrick Mallery & Richie Wright, Upcycled Mushroom Company: 
Mushroom growing

Tasha Stevens Vallecillo, Little Brympton off grid micro-farm:
Making a living from foraging, niche products and adding value

 

Details

Price: £55 LWA members, £80 non members, £10 under 16 (plus admin fees)

Book Now

This includes entrance to the Green Scythe Fair the following day, a Local Organic Feasts provided by The Peasants Lunchbox and dinner provided by Jyoti at Five Penny farm on the Land Skills Day as well as  live feetstopin folk music in the evening. For those camping over, New this year you also can have a simple self service breakfast on the day of the scythe fair in the Land Skills Day camping area.

Camping will cost an extra £5 pppn and is available next to the event site.

Volunteering

There are 5 free tickets for people that help with packdown for 5 hours on Monday 12 after the scythe fair, includes lunch on Monday. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Tasha living.arts.greenspace@gmail.com

Our partners, the Green Scythe Fair run a beautiful one day environmental fair on the Sunday that kindly support the Land Skills Day by sharing their space during set up.  The event is fully run by volunteers – for a free drink and the extra enjoyment of helping this special local event for two hours on the Sunday, please email volunteer@greenfair.org.uk

Policy Launch – A Place at The Table

Landworkers’ Alliance post-Brexit Policy launch

Download the Report Here

The Landworkers’ Alliance are launching our post-Brexit policy recommendations outside Defra’s offices -17 Smith Square, London – at 1.00pm on Friday 21st April. Featuring a dining table promoting the high-quality fresh produce of our members, the launch highlights the need for small-scale and family farmers to be offered a ‘place at the table’ in upcoming negotiations over the future of UK agriculture policy.

The launch will feature the release of our comprehensive 20-page report outlining the LWA’s key policy proposals for re-orientating agricultural support to deliver high quality food to UK consumers while building an environmentally, socially and economically resilient farming industry.

Ed Hamer, LWA policy spokesperson, says ‘The Landworkers’ Alliance has been campaigning for the past five years for greater recognition of the role small-scale and family farmers play in feeding the country. The UK’s exit from the Common Agricultural Policy provides the most significant opportunity in a generation to reverse the inequalities of area-based payments and replace them with a truly progressive policy framework that genuinely supports more farmers and better food.’

As we leave Europe and the opacity of the CAP behind we’re confident that UK taxpayers will no longer tolerate farmers being paid simply for owning land. We believe the farm support budget could be targeted much more effectively in providing the research and infrastructure necessary to enable farmers to supply quality produce to local markets. This model does not depend on UK consumers paying more for high quality local food – it does however depend on more effective regulation of the industry to ensure farmers receive a greater share of the food pound.’

Download the Report Here

Field Lab: Buckwheat for couch control

2pm Friday 24th February 2017 Abbey Home Farm Cirencester

This field lab for OGA and LWA members will attempt to evaluate the potential for buckwheat (and maybe other crops) to reduce couch grass infestations in horticultural rotations. Anecdotal evidence has shown buckwheat to work well within the rotation at Abbey Home Farm (AHF). Can it be built into rotations to reduce the couch grass burden on farms? What are the costs and benefits of using buckwheat (as a potential crop or green manure) in the rotation? Can we compare it with other means of control (e.g. fallowing)?

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The Long Read: Reflections and Revelations, Round up of the Oxford Real Farming Conference 2017

Telling a story is like reaching into a granary full of wheat and drawing out a handful. There is always more to tell than can be told.”
Wendell Berry, American Farmer and Activist.

The seeds of stories

A strong theme throughout the 2017 Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) was the need for us in these times to speak from the heart, and to share with each other our personal stories, our realities, and our struggles. Throughout the two day conference on the 4th and 5th January, I recognised my own experience expressed over and over again through the passionate voices and shared stories of others.

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More Farmers, Better Food: A framework for British Agriculture

more-farmers-1-1more-farmers-2

 

The Landworkers’ Alliance have been working on an 8 point proposal that is integral to sustaining a healthy, vibrant and just farming sector. The UK’s small scale, ecological and family farms are at the heart of our rural culture and communities; they create employment, protect cherished landscapes and produce much of the food that we eat. Click on the “More Farmers-Better Food” image to read the full document.