We need a new vision for farming in UK post-Brexit
The new vision for agriculture post-Brexit should be about being at the forefront of climate change mitigation, sustainability for future generations and profitable food production.
As a farmer myself and conservationist, I support, along with the various environmental groups, funds being allocated to cleaning up the environment, the creation of habitats for wild animals, birds and insects, the protection of woodlands, tree planting and enhancement of landscapes within the countryside.
On below-ground policies, this is where, to date, we have heard very little other than a suggestion that ‘soil health’ should be a consideration.
However, this is where I believe the really big opportunity lies.
It is a scientific fact that an increase in soil organic matter has a direct correlation with the reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases.
With the majority of the world’s industrial nations looking for ways to offset carbon emissions, this must be something that we farmers should be grabbing with both hands and, I believe, should be the core of future financial support for agriculture.
I’m advocating a change of tack to ‘dual farming’, which gives an income from the market for growing a crop and an income from government / carbon offset deals for improving soil organic matter.
On Brexit, we need to strengthen the UK brand and get the buying public behind us – what better way than have healthier food and farmland?
Disgraceful episode of Windrush
In his thoughtful history of the Windrush affair, Mike Smith suggests that those trying to establish their citizenship would not get much help from “tick-box officialdom” (Wigan Post Letters, April 26).
I suspect he’s right, but if the good ship Empire Windrush had come from Australia, laden with Anglo-Saxon heritage, would those boxes have been ticked – or not – with quite the same vigour?
The last few years have been polluted with the inherent nastiness of Ukip and Brexit. Is it such a bad thing that this disgraceful episode has come to a head now?
Every birth of a healthy baby is equally special
The safe birth of a healthy baby is a cause for celebration everywhere.
There are about 350,000 babies born worldwide each day, although only one made the news on April 23.
It is time to celebrate all people and to remember it is not who you were born that makes you worthwhile, but what you make of the life ahead of you.
The Royal Family has done much with Prince Philip’s ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ awards and Prince Harry’s work with disabled soldiers with the Invictus games. It is time to value not just the individual but all our births.
Raise your voice if climate change is worrying you
Despite a few weeks that have veered between the Beast from the East to unseasonable heatwaves, the ‘weirding’ of the weather is still only a passing inconvenience.
But it’s changing radically and nearly all climate scientists tell us we don’t have anything like ‘several decades’ of ‘very comfortable lives’ left to change – 20 years is pushing it.
The second problem is a sense of powerlessness: fossil fuels are absolutely everywhere.
As I learned at a recent conference on climate and the heritage industry, the most positive thing the public can do about climate change is talk about it. Interestingly, those who are thought to be the most worried (women who are under the age of 30) are actually the least likely to mention it.
We have seen how the public response to Blue Planet II drove the Government from indifference to plastic pollution to consultations and action, virtually overnight.
We can achieve the same for our energy needs: there are many climate-friendly alternatives to fracking – but they need Government investment. To renew our energy system we need not apathy and resignation, but for everyone to raise their voices for change, whether it’s on social media, or chatting in the pub.