Responding to the Government’s ‘Progress towards a sustainable future for livestock farming’ report to be published , Friends of the Earth’s Senior Farming Campaigner Clare Oxborrow said:
“Ministers are failing to deal with the enormous impact meat and dairy production has on wildlife and communities – particularly from soy grown at the expense of forests in South America and imported into the UK for animal feed.
“Although there has been some progress on research into imported soy alternatives, far more must be done to enable UK farmers to switch to planet-friendly farming methods.
“Reforming European farming policy is essential for the environment and global food security – UK Ministers must push for changes aimed at cultivating home-grown alternatives to overseas soy.
“We can’t allow our food system to cost the earth – the Government must do better.”
Earlier this month, Friends of the Earth produced a report card assessing Government progress in making UK livestock farming more sustainable. Agriculture Minister Jim Paice promised – at a Friends of the Earth farming conference last year – that the Government would “play its part”.
The report card, based on a detailed assessment by the environmental charity, showed progress could be better. It revealed the Government has:
• failed to push for planet-friendly farming reforms to the Common Agriculture Policy (we awarded them a D);
• failed to encourage the use of more food waste for animal feed (they got an F in our Report Card) – however, the latest report shows that Defra has commissioned a research project to explore how food and catering waste could be fed to animals. We therefore revise the score to a C;
• failed to produce clear public advice and industry guidance on healthy and sustainable diets (grade F);
• missed a major opportunity to promote better ingredients and healthier menus in canteens in schools and hospitals (grade D).
However, Friends of the Earth found some progress on research into alternatives to soy for animal feed (scoring a B in the report card) and recognised the potential of a new government project – called the Green Food Project – which is investigating how to increase production whilst protecting the environment (grade C).
Friends of the Earth is also urging the Government to keep its promise to announce a new Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech – to improve the treatment of farmers by the big supermarket chains.