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June 2017 Newsletter
A round up of news and views
A People's Food Policy - Did you know that England does not yet have a food policy? This means that multinational food companies and the largest land owners are likely to have the biggest influence on future trade deals.
The UK's food, feed and drink exports amounted to £20 billion last year, with 60% of these exports going to EU countries. At the same time we import 70% of our food, especially horticultural produce, valued at £43 billion. Currently most of our food comes from EU countries. If there is no Brexit agreement, then tariffs would be imposed on UK exports to the EU and vice versa. Check out the government's latest report on Agriculture and Trade.
Our food system is broken: An estimated 8 million people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, struggle to eat even one meal a day. 64% of farmers earn less than £10,000 per year, while eight supermarkets control almost 95% of the food retail market. Brexit could provide an opportunity to reform UK agriculture in favour of supporting small, productive, mixed farms that care for the environment and also to change the land tax system so that communities and young farmers can access land for food production.
Over 150 food and farming initiaties, community groups, grassroots organisations, unions and NGOs (including the Permaculture Group) contributed to the analysis, ideas and proposals for a People's Food Policy. The vision we have set out upholds the principles of 'Food Sovereignty' and introduces democratic control over the food system in order to promote the health of both producers and consumers. Members of the Permaculture Group discussed this new vision in detail last Saturday. While we were excited by the policy proposals, we agreeded that support from local and national politicians is needed before any positive changes can be made. You can read the People's Food Policy, here...
A big 'Thank You' to our new representatives from Marlborough Town Council! - Councillors Susie Price and Peter Cairns have volunteered to represent TM at future Town Council meetings. Susie and Peter attended the last Hub meeting, where they heard about our latest projects and promised to do what they can to take them forward. One of these projects is looking at ways of reducing air pollution in the town. We are, therefore, pleased to announce that our unitary councillors have agreed to prioritise a town-wide metrocount, as requested by our town councillors, which is the first step towards getting a 20mph limit.
Clean Air Week - Last week was Friends of the Earth Clean Air Week, so the Transport Group sent email and Twitter messages to owners of heavy goods vehicles that pass through the town centre, i.e. Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury, Stagecoach buses, Thamesdown buses, Salisbury Reds and Wiltshire Council. We requested that they upgrade their buses, trucks or light goods vehicles to safer, greener ones, without diesel engines; to avoid engine idling, while waiting and to stop using the A346 or A4 as a through-route, if they are not making deliveries in the town.
'Chokepoints' threaten our food supply - Increasingly vulnerable “chokepoints” are threatening the security of the global food supply, according to a new report. It identifies 14 critical locations, including the Suez canal, Black Sea ports and Brazil’s road network, almost all of which are already hit by frequent disruptions.
With climate change bringing more incidents of extreme weather, analysts at the Chatham House thinktank warn that the risk of a major disruption is growing but that little is being done to tackle the problem. Food supply interruptions in the past have caused huge spikes in prices which can spark major conflicts.
The chokepoints identified are locations through which exceptional amounts of the global food trade pass. More than half of the globe’s staple crop exports – wheat, maize, rice and soybean – have to travel along inland routes to a small number of key ports in the US, Brazil and the Black Sea. Read more, here...
Short supply chains and an increase in sustainable, domestic food production will avoid exposure to these chokepoints.
The Transition Marlborough team
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