[Fwd: farming today topic]
- -------- Original Message --------
Subject: farming today topic
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2004 17:48:31 -0000
From: peter white <p.a.white@...>
To: peter white <p.a.white@...>
Following on from my original email on this topic, which has generated a
lot of interest, Jenny Hall, Richard of Ballyroe and no doubt others
have emailed to Farming Today, Jennys' message is below. I spoke to the
producer this am and the topic is now scheduled to be aired as a 'right
to reply' on Friday at 5.45 am (!),on radio 4, assuming they do run
it. You should also be able to listen to the programme later on radio 4
This email has a wide circulation, but all as blind copies due to spam
Peter of VOT
A questioner on Farming today ( 26 December) asked what would be
the effect on the countryside 'if everyone went vegan', in other words, if
livestock animals were largely taken out of the system.
The answers from the panel included that there would be a 'dramatic
effect on upland and lowland grazing', that if grassland were to be
all at once 'there would be massive nitrogen pollution,' 'large areas of
arable land may be abandoned' and that there would be 'detrimental
waders like lapwings and curlews'
The question is most welcome and is more far reaching than may be first
imagined, the negative response is however based on a misunderstanding
of the full picture. Jenny Hall from the Vegan-Organic Trust (VOT) replies:
1. If livestock were to be taken out of agriculture over a period of time
then much more land would be available to grow food. A person consuming a
plant-based diet uses about one eighth of the land as a meat eater does.
Therefore the current situation, where 80% to 90% of the 46 million
acres of UK agricultural land is used to feed animals, could be reversed
could stop importing food for human and animal consumption. Most of the
affiliated farms in the Vegan-Organic trust run vegetable box schemes
which are ultra efficient ways of feeding and educating people about
production and rural land issues; connecting urban populations to the
countryside. VOT advocates a "people-orientated" food sector where local
producers can get fair pay. The efficient use of the countryside for grains,
vegetables, fruits, nuts, pulses and bio energy would mean that more
biodiverse wildlife habitats could be integrated into farming which would
reduce the need for pesticides.
2. If all grassland were to be ploughed in there would be massive
nitrogen pollution. However, grassland and particularly nitrogen fixing
using clover and lucerne are an integral part of "stockfree-organic"
Interestingly many of our affiliated farms have populations of
ground nesting birds. Crops can be brought to the grassland through
rotation, or hay can be removed from the grassland to make plant-based
compost or hay mulches. Researchers at the Co-operative Wholesale
Society have found that this form of nitrogen transfer is more efficient
than mixed farming and of course, uses less land. Also linking vegan
farming to pollution, possibly over looks the massive pollution and
health costs of the livestock industry that are borne by the water
consumer, NHS and tax payer.
3. Finally the issue of what would happen to the uplands.
Sir Martin Holdgate is a former UK government chief scientist and
Director of the World Conservation Union. He makes the following points
journal of the UK Wildlife Trusts.
"During the foot and mouth epidemic there have been claims that the
Lake District will become a 'wilderness', loss of sheep......' would
make the Lake District a desert'. I sympathise with those who have
suffered the consequences of FMD, but these claims are simply untrue.
Had we inherited Lakeland as it was before its settlement by pastoral
and agricultural people some 5,500 years ago, it would be a land of
lakes, teeming with fish and rich in waterfowl. The lake margins and valley
flats would be covered by extensive tracts of fen woodland. Alder woods
would flank the wild rivers. Ospreys would breed in trees around the shores.
Forests, dominated by oak, would mount the valley
sides................................................... The retreat of
heather moor can certainly be linked to over-stocking. What we now have
is a cultural landscape created by the interplay of terrain, wildlife,
and human use over the centuries.
Would it be a disaster if, following the sad loss of many hefted flocks,
farmers decided not to re-stock? The ecosystems, eaten out of existence
by the sheep, would slowly begin to reclaim their ancient realm. Hawthorn,
birch, hazel, rowan, holly, juniper, oak and ash would slowly extend their
refuges in the gills and crags to take over more land. It is customary
such embryonic woodland as 'scrub', but it is nonetheless rich in birds and
insects and is high forest in the making." (extracts)
See the websites of vegan-organic trust www.veganorganic.net
<http://www.veganorganic.net> and the
Vegan Society www.vegansociety.com <http://www.vegansociety.com>
(especially the Vegan Society information sheet 'animal products and the
The website of the Wildlife Trusts is www.wildlifetrusts.org
Plants for a Future: 7000 useful plants
Web: http://www.pfaf.org/ same as http://www.comp.leeds.ac.uk/pfaf/
Post: 1 Lerryn View, Lerryn, Lostwithiel, Cornwall, PL22 0QJ
Tel: 01208 872 963 / 0845 458 4719
PFAF electronic mailing list http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pfaf