It is not possible to consider British and Scottish farming policy without acknowledging the dominance of the European Union and the "Common Agricultural Policy" (CAP).
A critical reason why many farmers cannot make an adequate living is because our farming is under-funded in relation to our EU competitors.
Two other key reasons are cheap food imports and supermarket power.
In order to deliver a future for British farming, we articulate an alternative model to the CAP, based upon our 10 Principles to Put the Culture back into Agriculture:
1) Localisation, not Globalisation 2) Food Sovereignty, not Food Dependence 3) Natural Farming 4) Animal Welfare 5) Pastoralism 6) Bio-diversity 7) Urban Farming 8) Permaculture 9) Opposition to Corporate Control, and 10) Solidarity with Farmers Internationally.
All policies are based upon these principles, and all financial subsidies should be directed towards their advancement.
For example, some policies to promote local food:
- Roll out the Appointment of Local Food Officers throughout Scotland, who will work to develop local food initiatives and local sourcing and marketing networks.
- Develop new Markets. Schools, hospitals and public institutions should be encouraged to source food locally and nationally..
- Promote Nutritious food for Growing Children. Schools, especially, represent a major potential market for Scottish production. Throughout Britain, free fruit in school would ensure a domestic market for up to 40% of UK fruit production. Free organic milk should be available for all youngsters in Primary school.
- Cut Business Rates to Support Small Traders. Five percent of Scottish corner shops have gone bust each year over the past decade. If the trend continues, 1500 more will go out of business over the next 10 years. We advocate a cut in business rates to enable small businesses to survive in competition against supermarkets.
- Legislate to Oppose Supermarket Monopoly
We need to address the monopoly grip upon the food supply of processors, retailers and international traders, which is making farmgate prices too low for a farmer to make a living. We oppose any further opening of mini-supermarkets on our streets. Lord Sainsbury, for example, is a major financier of the Labour Party, giving £2.5million recently, and consequently, Labour-controlled councils are allowing his growing network of mini-supermarkets -- misnamed "locals" -- to open on our streets.
- Encourage Community-Supported Markets.
- Re-open Local Abattoirs to assist the process of localisation, and the de-centralisation of the food industry.
- Invest in Green Spaces in towns, for parks, playing fields, allotments, community gardens, and city farms.
- Encourage the Power of Consumer Patriotism by supporting local and country-of-origin labelling.
- Defend our Borders. Farmers cannot be expected to maintain high environmental and animal welfare standards at the same time as increased trade liberalisation undermines them by allowing cheap imports from countries with poor standards, as well as illegal food imports which bring disease.
In addition, we want to:
- Encourage young farmers with tax breaks and interest-free loans.
- Slash and simplify the complicated, time consuming and costly bureaucracy which has "taken the joy out of farming." The guiding principles are: Keep it Minimal, Keep it Simple.
- Support farming co-operatives, for example, with tax breaks.
- Educate school children by making regular farm and country visits part of the school curriculum.
- Oppose the Foot and Mouth culling policy. It is symptomatic of a fundamentally unsustainable, industrial, factory-style approach to farming, and we have campaigned extensively against it as the many articles here bear witness.