The group, Feed the UK (FTUK), is concerned that incentives aimed at encouraging farmers to take land out of food production, along with the increasingly tight legislation governing the industry, are damaging the country’s ability to feed itself.
And in a revolutionary call to action, it is encouraging farmers to get to grips with Common Law and challenge the constraints it believes are hampering the industry.
Meetings are being planned at which Common Law experts will explain how farmers can fight back, with organiser Venetia Carpenter claiming the information will help those attending “discover and enforce their rights as sovereign food providers and regain control over their future”.
She explained “FTUK is a consortium of farmers and concerned individuals who have come together to tackle the very real issue of crippled food supply chains as UK farmers are being encouraged to stop producing food, which will ultimately lead to a UK food shortage and a reliance on foreign imports.
“We are working with people who understand Common Law and who can help farmers negate onerous legislation. This will give farmers more freedom, time, and money.”
Venetia, a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators and of the Association of International Accountants, as well as an accredited mediator, said the initial meeting in Stelling Minnis, Kent, on 20 May was the start of a wider campaign.
She is herself a farmer’s daughter and part of a family that has been farming in the Weald of Kent since the 1600s. She is also joint owner of 120 acres of farmland that is currently rented to other members of the family.
She explained: “The Government is offering incentives to farmers to take land out of food production, but to ensure the UK remains self-sufficient and resilient, Grade I and II farmland must always stay in production.
“The Government wants land taken out of production and given over to schemes such as planting trees and flowers and encouraging birds, but these schemes aren’t commercially viable and won’t ensure UK farmers can continue to ‘Feed The UK’.” She said the problem was set to get worse, with rising food prices fed by spiralling costs in inputs such as fuel, labour, fertiliser, pesticides, gas and electricity, while supermarkets were unwilling to pay more.
Venetia said the recent trade deal with Australia was hypocritical because of the food miles involved and also pointed out the impact on freshness, reliability and the security of the UK’s food supply chain.
“In volatile times, when fuel is at an all-time high, the supply of everything that is imported is more precarious than ever; pesticides and fertilisers that farmers have come to rely on, and even labour, are mostly imported and all are in the balance. When times are hard, countries will feed their own before sending food overseas,” she commented.
On the increasing problem of legislation, Venetia pointed out: “A hundred years ago, farmers had far more freedom and considerably greater rights in law which are fast being eroded by recent legislation. Most farmers wish to preserve their farms, lands, livelihoods and secure a future for themselves and their families.”
She referred to “various pieces of legislation that are crippling farmers”, including rules about when on-farm activities are allowed, including when hedges can be cut.
“These ‘rules’ are often subject to the farmer applying to a third-party organisation or Government ‘quango’, including the Environment Agency, and these ‘rules’ are often a burden to farmers in both their time and expense,” she pointed out, stressing: “With an understanding of Common Law, farmers can challenge the Government with confidence and within the boundaries of the law.”
The next meeting of FTUK is planned for The House, Meadow Worsenden Farm, Biddenden TN27 8EL on Thursday 9 June, at 7pm.
FTUK can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org