Archive for Downsizer For an ethical approach to consumption
 


       Downsizer Forum Index -> Conservation and Environment
Tavascarow

Pesticides. The birds & the bees.

PDF, save it to read later if you haven't time now.
dpack

read and saved to share.the sssi i help out on sometimes and the one where some of my suggestions seem to haven taken root this year(tis being grazed),my sssi/conservation moos and the soon to be restored orchard are all a little blowback to such devastation.

the book silent spring about ddt etc made an impression on me decades ago .

maximum profit for a few ,cheap food for many and a combo of ignorance and "oh that's sad but what can i do" is a recipe for a major extinction epoch.it might include humans.
Tavascarow

BTO 2014 breeding bird report if you want the figures.
Rob R

If only we didn't have such a strong anti red meat lobby.
dpack

the herd on clifton ings is beef with a major longhorn component Very Happy

they seem quite placid, cows, calfs and young steers munching happily and as the place is about 70 acres in one parcel the dog walkers etc dont usually need to get close enough to bother them.

it looks a lot better this year than last at the same time having had a long cut and some chewing rather than a mower set at minus 5 cm.

it hasnt recovered from that yet and it still needs a proper management plan for diversity,good hay good grazing etc etc as well as a few tick box criteria it is supposed to meet and mostly failed to do so this year.there were /are few insects/birds or amphibians and the flora was as i predicted with a sea of buttercups awaiting the thistles and docks.
Tavascarow

If only we didn't have such a strong anti red meat lobby.
Livestock farming is as destructive & damaging as arable in this instance.
My neighbours suckler herd live on fields where two species predominate, rye grass & docks, because he uses herbicides & over-fertilises, no clover!! The cattle get wormed regularly so no insects or birds feed on the cowpats. The hedges are flailed every year regardless. Not a wildlife friendly environment at all IMHO.
Mistress Rose

Have read the article now. I hope it is overstating the case, but definitely too much pesticide and herbicide is used, even in some peoples gardens. Oak processionary moth does need to be controlled as it can defoliate trees and also is a danger to human and animal health, but most of the rest is unnecessary unless there is a real problem with some pest. I wonder if in the past they employed more gardeners, and farms more workers, so that things like weeds could be dealt with by hand or mechanically rather than using herbicide.

I deplore the cutting of grass unnecessarily. This year the grass verge opposite out house and on a bank down the road has been left uncut. It has made on difference to sight lines at junctions, and we have had pyramid orchids, harebells and scabious blooming beautifully. I just wish they would leave the grass triangle down the road uncut as every time the flowers try to put their heads up people complain it is 'untidy' and it gets mown.
Rob R

If only we didn't have such a strong anti red meat lobby.
Livestock farming is as destructive & damaging as arable in this instance.
My neighbours suckler herd live on fields where two species predominate, rye grass & docks, because he uses herbicides & over-fertilises, no clover!! The cattle get wormed regularly so no insects or birds feed on the cowpats. The hedges are flailed every year regardless. Not a wildlife friendly environment at all IMHO.

The anti red meat lobby doesn't make that distinction - to them meat is bad no matter what and as such they target the weakest, small scale businesses that are not like the one you describe, first, because they are an easy target.

The potential for wildlife friendly farming is greater with (grazing) livestock than without because arable (and pigs & poultry) are particularly destructive to soils and the ground surface.

I've got a neighbour who doesn't use fert or spray, but the wildlife value isn't great due to the way it is, or rather isn't, managed. He's just one example, though. Comparing like for like, the other farmers around me are not particularly different to the average, but we've had greater pollution in recent years due to a move to more arable farming in the area.
dpack

spot on rob ,it isnt the products as such it is the means of production.

beef =arable for concentrates with high chemical inputs and soil degrading methods>monocultures , little biodiversity,industrial beef

or

beef= well managed grazing ,well timed hay(or hayledge)>biodiversity and better beef

the latter is far superior and sustainable in real terms but at an economic disadvantage in the type of economy we have.
Tavascarow

If only we didn't have such a strong anti red meat lobby. Livestock farming is as destructive & damaging as arable in this instance.
My neighbours suckler herd live on fields where two species predominate, rye grass & docks, because he uses herbicides & over-fertilises, no clover!! The cattle get wormed regularly so no insects or birds feed on the cowpats. The hedges are flailed every year regardless. Not a wildlife friendly environment at all IMHO.

The anti red meat lobby doesn't make that distinction - to them meat is bad no matter what and as such they target the weakest, small scale businesses that are not like the one you describe, first, because they are an easy target.

The potential for wildlife friendly farming is greater with (grazing) livestock than without because arable (and pigs & poultry) are particularly destructive to soils and the ground surface.

I've got a neighbour who doesn't use fert or spray, but the wildlife value isn't great due to the way it is, or rather isn't, managed. He's just one example, though. Comparing like for like, the other farmers around me are not particularly different to the average, but we've had greater pollution in recent years due to a move to more arable farming in the area. A lot of arable is fed to livestock, probably over 50% (I'm guessing). I'm trying to differentiate between local impact & global because in this instance It's local species under threat & being discussed.
Globally our over consumption of red meat is contributing hugely to climate change, as you are well aware.
Which is why I & many like me say we should be eating less red meat & what we do eat should be sourced from environmentally sustainable farms like yours.
But the majority of livestock isn't raised in an environmentally friendly way.
My neighbour isn't an exception he's the norm & if you asked him if he cared for his land & the environment I bet he would say yes, as would most farmers.
I live in an area that's predominately pasture. I haven't seen a kestrel here in about ten years.
Why? Because there are no short tailed field voles. & the reason there aren't is farming practices like my neighbours.
Rob R

If only we didn't have such a strong anti red meat lobby. Livestock farming is as destructive & damaging as arable in this instance.
My neighbours suckler herd live on fields where two species predominate, rye grass & docks, because he uses herbicides & over-fertilises, no clover!! The cattle get wormed regularly so no insects or birds feed on the cowpats. The hedges are flailed every year regardless. Not a wildlife friendly environment at all IMHO.

The anti red meat lobby doesn't make that distinction - to them meat is bad no matter what and as such they target the weakest, small scale businesses that are not like the one you describe, first, because they are an easy target.

The potential for wildlife friendly farming is greater with (grazing) livestock than without because arable (and pigs & poultry) are particularly destructive to soils and the ground surface.

I've got a neighbour who doesn't use fert or spray, but the wildlife value isn't great due to the way it is, or rather isn't, managed. He's just one example, though. Comparing like for like, the other farmers around me are not particularly different to the average, but we've had greater pollution in recent years due to a move to more arable farming in the area. A lot of arable is fed to livestock, probably over 50% (I'm guessing). I'm trying to differentiate between local impact & global because in this instance It's local species under threat & being discussed.
Globally our over consumption of red meat is contributing hugely to climate change, as you are well aware.
Which is why I & many like me say we should be eating less red meat & what we do eat should be sourced from environmentally sustainable farms like yours.

But the majority of livestock isn't raised in an environmentally friendly way.
My neighbour isn't an exception he's the norm & if you asked him if he cared for his land & the environment I bet he would say yes, as would most farmers.
I live in an area that's predominately pasture. I haven't seen a kestrel here in about ten years.
Why? Because there are no short tailed field voles. & the reason there aren't is farming practices like my neighbours.

The pressure groups say that, yes, using highly biased estimates that don't relate to reality, such as it taking 2500 gallons of water to produce 1lb of beef. They fail to mention the less convenient facts, such as the massive increase in fresh produce consumption.
dpack

if most of that water is rain on biodiverse grazing what problem is that? Tavascarow

If only we didn't have such a strong anti red meat lobby. Livestock farming is as destructive & damaging as arable in this instance.
My neighbours suckler herd live on fields where two species predominate, rye grass & docks, because he uses herbicides & over-fertilises, no clover!! The cattle get wormed regularly so no insects or birds feed on the cowpats. The hedges are flailed every year regardless. Not a wildlife friendly environment at all IMHO.

The anti red meat lobby doesn't make that distinction - to them meat is bad no matter what and as such they target the weakest, small scale businesses that are not like the one you describe, first, because they are an easy target.

The potential for wildlife friendly farming is greater with (grazing) livestock than without because arable (and pigs & poultry) are particularly destructive to soils and the ground surface.

I've got a neighbour who doesn't use fert or spray, but the wildlife value isn't great due to the way it is, or rather isn't, managed. He's just one example, though. Comparing like for like, the other farmers around me are not particularly different to the average, but we've had greater pollution in recent years due to a move to more arable farming in the area. A lot of arable is fed to livestock, probably over 50% (I'm guessing). I'm trying to differentiate between local impact & global because in this instance It's local species under threat & being discussed.
Globally our over consumption of red meat is contributing hugely to climate change, as you are well aware.
Which is why I & many like me say we should be eating less red meat & what we do eat should be sourced from environmentally sustainable farms like yours.

But the majority of livestock isn't raised in an environmentally friendly way.
My neighbour isn't an exception he's the norm & if you asked him if he cared for his land & the environment I bet he would say yes, as would most farmers.
I live in an area that's predominately pasture. I haven't seen a kestrel here in about ten years.
Why? Because there are no short tailed field voles. & the reason there aren't is farming practices like my neighbours.

The pressure groups say that, yes, using highly biased estimates that don't relate to reality, such as it taking 2500 gallons of water to produce 1lb of beef. They fail to mention the less convenient facts, such as the massive increase in fresh produce consumption. Rob if you include the United Nations as a pressure group then yes fine, otherwise no.
I'm not saying people shouldn't eat meat, I'm fully supportive of farmers like yourself that endeavour to produce good quality, sustainably reared meat.
But I struggle to understand why (at least from my understanding) you defend the rest of the industry that you know is far from sustainable, but very damaging to the local environment & the planet as a whole? I've not read any articles that claim how much water it takes to rear a lb of beef so don't know which 'pressure group' you refer. There are huge amounts of science that says the ever increasing demand both in the West & in the emerging countries like China & India is not sustainable.
Modern agricultural practices likewise.
Why deny it?
Rob R

If only we didn't have such a strong anti red meat lobby. Livestock farming is as destructive & damaging as arable in this instance.
My neighbours suckler herd live on fields where two species predominate, rye grass & docks, because he uses herbicides & over-fertilises, no clover!! The cattle get wormed regularly so no insects or birds feed on the cowpats. The hedges are flailed every year regardless. Not a wildlife friendly environment at all IMHO.

The anti red meat lobby doesn't make that distinction - to them meat is bad no matter what and as such they target the weakest, small scale businesses that are not like the one you describe, first, because they are an easy target.

The potential for wildlife friendly farming is greater with (grazing) livestock than without because arable (and pigs & poultry) are particularly destructive to soils and the ground surface.

I've got a neighbour who doesn't use fert or spray, but the wildlife value isn't great due to the way it is, or rather isn't, managed. He's just one example, though. Comparing like for like, the other farmers around me are not particularly different to the average, but we've had greater pollution in recent years due to a move to more arable farming in the area. A lot of arable is fed to livestock, probably over 50% (I'm guessing). I'm trying to differentiate between local impact & global because in this instance It's local species under threat & being discussed.
Globally our over consumption of red meat is contributing hugely to climate change, as you are well aware.
Which is why I & many like me say we should be eating less red meat & what we do eat should be sourced from environmentally sustainable farms like yours.

But the majority of livestock isn't raised in an environmentally friendly way.
My neighbour isn't an exception he's the norm & if you asked him if he cared for his land & the environment I bet he would say yes, as would most farmers.
I live in an area that's predominately pasture. I haven't seen a kestrel here in about ten years.
Why? Because there are no short tailed field voles. & the reason there aren't is farming practices like my neighbours.

The pressure groups say that, yes, using highly biased estimates that don't relate to reality, such as it taking 2500 gallons of water to produce 1lb of beef. They fail to mention the less convenient facts, such as the massive increase in fresh produce consumption. Rob if you include the United Nations as a pressure group then yes fine, otherwise no.
I'm not saying people shouldn't eat meat, I'm fully supportive of farmers like yourself that endeavour to produce good quality, sustainably reared meat.
But I struggle to understand why (at least from my understanding) you defend the rest of the industry that you know is far from sustainable, but very damaging to the local environment & the planet as a whole? I've not read any articles that claim how much water it takes to rear a lb of beef so don't know which 'pressure group' you refer. There are huge amounts of science that says the ever increasing demand both in the West & in the emerging countries like China & India is not sustainable.
Modern agricultural practices likewise.
Why deny it?

When have I ever defended the rest of the industry? That is perhaps where you are going wrong. I prefer decisions to be made with truth facts, whether that be the rest of the industry or pressure groups such as the UN or others. I chose water as an example to illustrate the problems with their estimations purely because it is something I can measure. Gases are much harder to measure (but even if you take UN figures at face value the effect of eliminating animal agriculture completely results in a net increase of just over 11% GHG emissions) Their figure is 15000 litres of water per kilo of beef produced (source).

Lets just think about that for a second - we're on a metered water supply, every drop, except for the stuff that falls and drains naturally is £1.25 per cube, the UN says that it takes 15 cubes per kilo of beef - that's £18.75 water cost. The beef retails, with a small return (providing we have sufficient volume, it becomes less efficient the less volume you have) at £10.60. As dpack says, if they are counting all the water that falls on the land, what does it matter? it would be falling and stored on the same land anyway, cattle or not.

The other problem with advice such as the above is that the world is a complex place and single figures such as 'it takes x to produce x' are going to be inaccurate for the majority of the world, so they should show their working, otherwise it is a purely abstract figure.

The 'think gobal, act local' approach has severe limitations regarding any move towards a sustainable future. For example, China is a major source of concern for many reasons, and maybe they aren't producing their meat in the most sustainable way, but here in England we cannot eat a negative amount to counteract the excesses of China. Meanwhile people *are* selectively cutting back in this country and harming the viability of sustainable agriculture.

It is perfectly possible for someone in China to be vastly overconsuming meat products while at the same time someone in England is vastly under consuming - the two don't, and never will cancel eachother out, so the damage caused by both is greater. If that then means that we need to import more of our food needs, possibly from China, then the situation is made even worse.

Looking at these figures (which were provided to me by a vegan who was saying that we need to cut out meat completely, incidentally), here in the UK, over the past half century, we have increased our meat consumption, overall, by 11% (though if you combine the sum of dairy and eggs it is actually stable) each, meanwhile fruit & veg has gone up by 52%, much of it imported, yet it is always reported that our diet of meat is making us fat & unhealthy as a nation...
Rob R

Put it this way; if farmers like we have round here prosper with their animals and we halt the decline of livestopck farming in the area, then maybe, just maybe, the farmers in your area will follow suit, and you'll see more Kestrels.

However, if we continue to see a decline in livestock farming, the marginal areas that I manage will decline yet further and the 'better' land will be farmed even more intensively. The Kestrels will decline here too.
Mistress Rose

I don't think you can rely on information given by vegans, as with due respect to any on here, most have an axe to grind. Rob, I don't think, seeing pictures of where your cattle graze, that you need to worry about water consumption.

Management is not just about farming. We used to see lots of kestrels round here, but then the Highways Agency decided that they needed to cut all the vegetation along the motorway/dual carriageway for miles all in one go. Of course this did for the vole and mouse population, and even though the vegetation has grown back, we don't see anything like as many kestrels still.

The grass and wildflower problem has been going on for a long time. During the 1950s and 60s farmers were being encouraged to reseed pasture with 'improved grassland'. The area we used to get lots of cowslips and even bee orchids was resown, and was never the same again. I don't know what it is like now as it is private and grazed within an inch of its life (or closer) by horses. Another area of downland is open to the public, but because so many people exercise their dogs on it the flat parts of the lynchets are reduced to poor grass, and even the slopes are being damaged.

Most of these are not down to farmers, but other agencies, and all have adversely affected wildlife.
Tavascarow

Why has veganism come into this discussion & why shouldn't you trust them?

Confused
Rob R

Why has veganism come into this discussion & why shouldn't you trust them?

Confused

One provided me with the Nat Geo link about diet. It didn't support their view. I was also recently in an online discussion regarding the decline of wildflower meadows with someone who throught that their dietary choice was supporting them - they went very quiet when I pointed out the big pile of obvious. Most people are not as involved in food production and therefore don't realise what are myths and what is real.

And of course noone believes the producer, 'cause what would they know...? Rolling Eyes
Tavascarow

'One' is an individual, saying you shouldn't trust vegans because they have an axe to grind is a very broad statement.
Especially when people choose a particular diet/lifestyle for many various reasons.

Misinformation abounds everywhere & from all sides of the argument.
Big business is very good at propaganda & farming is a big business. Much that I read in the trade press has a very skewed perspective, & often far from the facts.
But I don't say you shouldn't trust farmers, they have an axe to grind.
Rob R

That's why I talk to people and establish their reasons, rather than making assumptions. Tavascarow

This is the pdf that I was referring to earlier(UN) & one IMHO anyone interested in sustainable food production should read.

United Nations trade & environment review 2013 'Wake up before it is to late'.
Rob R

It appears to concur with my points made above. Tavascarow

Your interpretation not mine Wink Rob R

I guess that's the effect of a different perspective. Or the kestrels addling my mind. Mistress Rose

I suggested that vegans have an axe to grind. I may have been unlucky in the ones I have talked to, but they seem to think that cutting down rain forests to provide them with soya is better for the environment that keeping cows (except to look pretty or for conservation purposes) on land such as Rob uses. I am sure there are plenty who know what is what, but sadly I haven't met them.

There are some farmers who seem to be rather blinkered too; hence the argument that they have to have neonics or they can't grow OSR. It will be more difficult and may well need some careful crop rotation, but if it is eventually banned world wide they may not have any choice.

In every walk of life you have people who can only see one side of an argument, and manage to forget all facts that don't help their argument.

I will try to read that link when I have a few minutes to myself.
Tavascarow

I suggested that vegans have an axe to grind. I may have been unlucky in the ones I have talked to, but they seem to think that cutting down rain forests to provide them with soya is better for the environment that keeping cows (except to look pretty or for conservation purposes) on land such as Rob uses. I am sure there are plenty who know what is what, but sadly I haven't met them.

There are some farmers who seem to be rather blinkered too; hence the argument that they have to have neonics or they can't grow OSR. It will be more difficult and may well need some careful crop rotation, but if it is eventually banned world wide they may not have any choice.

In every walk of life you have people who can only see one side of an argument, and manage to forget all facts that don't help their argument.

I will try to read that link when I have a few minutes to myself. You are both right & both wrong. Wink
Most of the soya grown on former rainforest is grown for livestock feed. A small fraction of soya production goes direct to human consumption.
I had a similar argument with a vegan friend of mine who claimed almond milk was better than dairy because it uses less water.
It may well do, but the almond orchards of California are vast monocultures that don't even have grass under the trees.
Bare sterile earth poisoned to the point any other life struggles to survive there. Having seen how they are grown I now avoid almonds wherever possible.
If she had said I don't like dairy because I disagree with calves being slaughtered at birth just so I can have my pint I would agree.
I have no axe to grind against almond growers or dairy farmers but IMHO modern agricultural practices in all sectors are currently unsustainable, & in many parts of the industry more to do with propping up other big business like agrochem, machinery & finance than securing the nations food supply.
Tavascarow

& right on cue look what just popped into my inbox.
Press Release

Shock and dismay as the EU allows a new bee-killing insecticide

Quote:
On 27th July 2015, the European Commission and EU Members States authorised SULFOXAFLOR (1), a new neuro-toxic insecticide produced by Dow AgroSciences. The political decision to allow the substance into the market was taken despite the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) warnings on its risks to bees but also to small mammals.

Among its conclusions, the EFSA report explains that “with the available assessments a high risk to bees was not excluded for field uses » (2).

The decision is even more absurd when considered that SULFOXAFLOR acts on bees’ in a similar way as insecticides from neonicotinoids family, which are currently partially banned in Europe. In the United States where sulfoxaflor-based pesticides have been marketed since 2013, the beekeeping sector has been pushing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdrawn it from the market (3).
(My bold underline)
Looks like the kestrels had better stay on the motorways for the foreseeable future.
Mistress Rose

It makes no sense whatsoever. I suppose this is another thing that the beekeeping fraternity, people interested in wildlife etc. will have to fight against then.

Tavascarow, one thing that concerns me about veganism is that they don't restrict themselves to mainly locally grown food. I hear talk of soya, but never about eating locally grown beans and peas, or have I just not been listening properly?
Ty Gwyn

The argument of calves slaughtered at birth whether by veggies,vegans or animal welfare groups just does`nt hold water anymore,a visit to your local cattle mart calf sales will prove that. Tavascarow

The argument of calves slaughtered at birth whether by veggies,vegans or animal welfare groups just does`nt hold water anymore,a visit to your local cattle mart calf sales will prove that. Aren't male holstein calves still shot, or are they going into the veal market now? I'll be honest I'm out of touch.
My father crossed most of his small dairy herd with native beef breeds like Angus & Hereford & raised the calves to beef age. He bred his dairy replacements from his best cows & put them to a Friesian bull. Even the Friesian bull calves joined the beef herd although they took longer to raise & fatten (+36 months).
But my fathers dairy cows lived well into their teens so he didn't need to raise so many replacements.
Quite different to your modern Holstein milker who only goes through three or four lactations before she's culled.
As an omnivore it's not the loss of life but the waste of life I object to.
Rob R

The thing with veganism is that it is a personal choice based upon whether you choose not to consume products made directly from animals. I can't object to that because it is a personal choice that everyone has to take and everyone is welcome to make that choice.

However, everything else used to justify the diet is just flannel, such as the bull calf issue. There is dairy, and plenty of it, where the calves aren't shot. It's the equivalent of saying you won't go outside because you'll get run over.

My personal ethics dictate that it is no worse to take the life of a flying insect than it is a cow, but veganism seems to exist based upon an 'out of sight, out of mind' philosophy. They object to animals travelling to a slughterhourse to be killed, but will not object to a field being cultivated, even if the numbers of animals killed in the field is far more. It's fluffy bunny syndrome in the vast majority of cases.
Ty Gwyn

The local fortnightly calf sale here in Tregaron that i frequent,Pure Holstein bull calves are fetching anything up to £50,the average is around the 20 to 30 mark,
Last couple of sales i picked up a few calves like your Fathers,an Angus x Friesian heifer and a British Friesian bull calf,80 and 120 respectively,Hereford x Holstein heifers are starting at 250,Lim,Charolais,Belgian Blues whatever sex are starting at 300,the better quality if out of British Friesian are topping the 400 mark,
A few months back in Carmarthen a pair of Charolais bull calves made 510 apiece from a local farm near here.

I agree ,the British Friesian has longlevity ,the Holsteins milk themselves to death
Tavascarow

I personally think farmers would make more money if they de intensified, reduced inputs & kept longer lived livestock breeds. How much does it cost to rear a holstein heifer to two years before she even starts producing?
It seems a major investment for something you are going to kill three years later.
As I said earlier I feel modern agriculture has as much to do with keeping agrichem, machinery & finance profit over the farmers.
This is going a bit off thread because this was originally about how modern agriculture is affecting wildlife, particularly birds & bees but it's all related.
My fathers mixed farm was very wildlife rich in the 1960s.
Studying the on farm wildlife as a child is where my love of nature started.
I would love to see an agricultural system like that return nationwide not just in environmentally sensitive areas like Robs farm.
Rob R

I personally think farmers would make more money if they de intensified, reduced inputs & kept longer lived livestock breeds. How much does it cost to rear a holstein heifer to two years before she even starts producing?
It seems a major investment for something you are going to kill three years later.

Not when the cull value covers much of the cost. The thing is, and the reason why I perhaps sound like I'm defending them, that farmers are doing these things. When I first started, 20 years ago, I was a right odd ball not to be using fert and never spraying, only feeding grass but gradually over the years more & more people are beginning to see the value in it.

This may sound good, but the buying public are not keeping up in their demand for more ethically produced food. This means that my USP is being continually erroded, not always honestly, but never the less, the market is becoming more difficult because so many people are doing it now. We need a lot more people eating a lot more meat of this type (rather than either exporting it or not producing it) to ensure that it continues to grow from the supply side.
Tavascarow

We both want the same thing but we are coming at it from different directions.
I would prefer your meat to be a luxury item, & command a similar price. So we don't have to over consume to keep you in business & you & those like you don't overproduce.
Livestock farming does contribute about 10 to 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, & there is no reason why we shouldn't be trying to reduce that, in the same way we are supposed to be elsewhere.
We consume far more meat now per person than we did in the 1960s, increasing consumption to a higher level wont help the planet or you.
I personally think in time these kind of events will level the playing field & allow sustainable agriculture to come to the fore.
I just wish people would wise up in the interim period for the sake of the species that haven't got a voice.
Rob R

My perspective is that I have to live in the real world. It's no good to me that people will one day be clamouring for sustainably, reliably produced food in 2060, especially if those few people who do, today, care about such issues have cut back and production has not been viable. I also don't want healthy, nutritious food to be a high-priced luxury - we all deserve access to quality food and it shouldn't be something that only the rich can afford.

Beef & lamb are expensive foods and probably don't need to change that much in price. The world population eats the same amount of beef today as they did in the 60s, in the UK it has dropped significantly. Meanwhile chicken, what was once a treat, has sky rocketed (up almost 4 times across the board).

If livestock farming does create 15% GHG emissions, and uses the resources capable of feeding an extra 30% of people, even if we got rid of it completely, there would still be an 11% rise in emissions, as 85% are unrelated to livestock. In fact it would be more than that, as that doesn't include the emissions of whatever replaces livestock products.

At the moment I am far from in danger of over producing. We have over 1100 acres of nnr meadows here, and we graze less than 10% of that, with about another 800 under SSSI in private ownership (some of which we also manage). Without enough animals to cover the whole ground in one season, 30 acres of our allocation goes ungrazed, 25 is grazed properly, but not really quicly enough, and a further 25 is partially grazed, depending upon the water levels. Meanwhile I have several other people offering me grazing, some of which I can't cover. The potential is massive. It's not just grazing, either, there are several farms that have arable land, in farmer ownership, looking like a rewilding project. If we farmed land to it's potential, even allowing for sensitive management, we could easily produce so much more.
Mistress Rose

One major problem does seem to be supermarkets and other large buyers of farm produce claiming there is a 'global market' and that they can get cheaper in other countries. Of course that was how the horsemeat scandal started. It might be possible to buy things like milk and meat cheaper from other countries, but that doesn't mean that the British public would buy Chinese milk while British farmers are fighting to be paid a reasonable price, which I think is something the supermarkets forget. They might well be using foreign milk in other factory produced goods, but they couldn't get away with the fresh stuff. Similarly with meat; most people will buy British, possibly New Zealand, but will not knowingly buy from other places.

Rob, our chicken consumption has more than gone up 4 fold since I was a child, as we only had chicken at Christmas as it was so expensive in the 1950s. I always liked it too. We buy local grown beef, lamb and pork. The cattle are supplementary fed in the winter in barns, but graze the grass as much as possible. I see them and the pigs in the fields. The sheep almost certainly do, and I may see them in the fields, but at a distance as they on the farm next door, which is on the hill I assume.

Poor management ranging from 'factory' type to complete lack of management is occurring in all aspects of land management. This isn't helped by farming/forestry land being regarded as of marginal use financially, and in this area ripe for development so therefore generally marginal/waste. You are at least lucky that most of your grazing land cannot be built on except as a lake village.
Tavascarow

Rob I don't deny that for the sakes of local environments & wildlife populations what you are doing is correct. But for the planet & climate change I can't agree with your statement that we should be eating more meat, when we are already over consuming & over producing.
Farming as a whole is contributing hugely to habitat & species destruction, much more than its contribution to climate change. & without serious changes that will continue.
I agree that all people should have access to healthy food but overconsumption of healthy meat is almost as damaging to health as over consuming unhealthy.
As I've said before for the environments sake (as a whole) we need to eat less red meat but better quality & more sustainably reared. All I've read that counters that argument has come from you & you have a vested interest.
Where we do agree is we all need to eat a whole lot less of factory farmed pork & poultry.
Rob R

Rob I don't deny that for the sakes of local environments & wildlife populations what you are doing is correct. But for the planet & climate change I can't agree with your statement that we should be eating more meat, when we are already over consuming & over producing.
Farming as a whole is contributing hugely to habitat & species destruction, much more than its contribution to climate change. & without serious changes that will continue.

The world is made up of many local environments and wildlife populations. If each of us in our respective local environments continue to do the same as I am doing and managing them according to the needs of the local environment. If more farmers can be encouraged to do the same then the effect will be multiplied.


I agree that all people should have access to healthy food but overconsumption of healthy meat is almost as damaging to health as over consuming unhealthy.

Over consumption of anything is damaging to health, equally so is underconsumption, I'm not suggesting that we consume only meat, but the evidence regarding both meat consumption and vegetarianism is that you need a *balanced* diet and healthy lifestyle (including exercise) to be healthy.


As I've said before for the environments sake (as a whole) we need to eat less red meat but better quality & more sustainably reared. All I've read that counters that argument has come from you & you have a vested interest.

Then I suggest you read more widely, including reading what I have said. All my conclusions are citing the same evidence that you are quoting, 'facts' and figures reported by the UN. You haven't addressed any of these conclusions. The UN report even said that we should be [paraphrasing] producing more local food for local people and listening to the needs of the rural poor, whereas you are dismissing my views as being vested - of course we have a vested interest in the healthy and quality of our own health, local environment and economy.

Where we do agree is we all need to eat a whole lot less of factory farmed pork & poultry.

Yep, and if we could simultaneously reduce the amount of vegetable oils consumed we stand a chance of reducing oilseed crop cultivation, which is causing all sorts of damage across the board, unless you're going to feed it to the elephant.
Rob R

Poor management ranging from 'factory' type to complete lack of management is occurring in all aspects of land management. This isn't helped by farming/forestry land being regarded as of marginal use financially, and in this area ripe for development so therefore generally marginal/waste. You are at least lucky that most of your grazing land cannot be built on except as a lake village.

It's funny you should mention that, as I was recently looking at the farm that was my dad's childhood home - 200 acres of land alongside the River Hull. Their main access was by boat and it regularly flooded. The house and buildings were built on the floodbank so that it was an extreme event that flooded the house. Fast forward 50 years and the entirity of the farm (along with the neighbouring 'Ings' farm) is a mixture of retail and housing.

We are lucky in that we have various designations under national and international conventions but that doesn't stop the most insidious damaged caused by under utilisation. There's no way to force people to use the land in a way that maintains it and all these grossly over simplified popular messages are only making the situation worse.

Thankfully there are a small group of people who can see through the poorly reported science and are actually eating more. Without these people it wouldn't be viable. These people are not obese, unhealthy people either, despite their diet. We have a lot to thank them for in ensuring that we still have the birds and the bees.
Ty Gwyn

Reading your above post Rob,and this is from someone who has not visited your area,but gleaned a picture from viewing photo`s you have posted here and other info of the area over the year`s including mentioning the flooding has got worse over the year`s,
Seem`s to have got worse partly due to this housing and retail building on your Father`s old farm rather than if an extra 500 cattle producing methane had upped the balance of the planet.
Rob R

Reading your above post Rob,and this is from someone who has not visited your area,but gleaned a picture from viewing photo`s you have posted here and other info of the area over the year`s including mentioning the flooding has got worse over the year`s,
Seem`s to have got worse partly due to this housing and retail building on your Father`s old farm rather than if an extra 500 cattle producing methane had upped the balance of the planet.

We're in a different river catchment, so there won't be a direct link but certainly the flooding in Hull has got worse for that reason. I do think that more drainage in the upper reaches of the Derwent has contributed to the the flooding down here in the lower end.

We can even see it in more local maps, such as this parish one from 1616. East Moor & West Moor are both now arable rather than grazing, and for scale purposes Eller Carr is ~50 acres.
dpack

this

or this Wink
Rob R

this

or this Wink

Bah... Laughing
Mistress Rose

The carrs would almost certainly be wet woodland, probably alder too. That would have helped to absorb any flooding into areas that could cope with it.

In the New Forest, they originally canalised some of the streams to drain the mires so they could plant trees. This has caused downstream flooding in some of the towns, so over the last 10 years they have been building up the stream beds again so that they flood into the neighbouring grassland and wet woodland, and they are encouraging wood snags to form dams rather than getting rid of them as soon as they are seen. The mires are redeveloping and there is less flooding downstream.

Building on floodplains is never a good idea, and when we have serious floods, the government prohibits building for a year or so, then it quietly gets forgotten. The rivers always win in the end though, so we get flooding.
Tavascarow

Rob no one is denying everyone should have access to a healthy balanced diet.
Although it's perfectly possible to have a balanced vegetarian diet, & vegan. Meat isn't essential for good health.
But your idea, & one you continually push in various threads is we should eat more red meat.
I know the facts regarding grass fed meat being healthier than corn reared. & I agree.
But we already consume more than is healthy, & not enough vegetable or fibre in the diet, so how eating more will make us healthier I fail to see.
It's been proven that the British population was at it's healthiest during the rationing years when we ate very little meat & dairy at all & lots of wholemeal bread & vegetables.
& as I've said earlier & previously, it's proven how increased livestock production, which is ongoing at an alarming rate is adding to greenhouse gas emissions. CO2, NO & CH4.
This thread was primarily about pesticides & I know you don't use many, & unlike most beef farmers you aren't feeding your stock cereal or vegetable protein which has had a variety of pesticides added to finish your animals. So that's admirable, & I'm supportive of you & others like you for that reason.
But there are good & bad in all walks of life, & my neighbour at first glance isn't very different to you.
But as I said earlier his land is far from species rich, rather very depleted.
& this is where registration systems like organic come to play.
I know if I buy 'organic' beef it will contain zero pesticides, & wont have been fed anything that has been treated with pesticides.
That's a big selling point for someone like me, who is fully aware of the damage pesticides do to the natural environment.
Ty Gwyn

It's been proven that the British population was at it's healthiest during the rationing years when we ate very little meat & dairy at all & lots of wholemeal bread & vegetables.


Is it also proven that more of the population also done far more manual work at the time,instead of jogging and visiting the gym.
Rob R

It occurred to me last night that we may be talking at crossed purposes. We're talking about eating 'more' or eating 'less', but can you quantify those figures? How much less & more? And the higher price, what level are we proposing for that?

If we cut out all the grain fed meat overnight that would be a significant reduction in meat consumption. I may seem like I'm defending more conventional farmers when I point out that a significant proportion of animal feed is actually a by-product of the human food chain - soya isn't fed whole to livestock so it's misleading to say that the increase in it's production is down to livestock, I'd say the proliferation of intensive livestock is down to the availability of soybean meal. That doesn't mean it's "ok" - I also think we should be cutting down on our vegetable oil consumption, having been sold the idea that it's healthier than animal fats, then the revenues generated by the crop for livestock would halve. I personally can't see intensive livestock being as viable with soya doubled in price.

The reason I push for more grassfed meat is, primarily, because we have lost in the region of 99% of our unfertilised, unsprayed, undrained wildflower meadows, and with all the will in the world, turning vegan isn't going to address that (thought it's surprising how many vegans and vegetarians think it is).

The figures speak for themselves in my local area. Growing up I didn't appreciate what we have here - I thought it was normal to see more Brown Hares than rabbits, and I thought everyone had Kestrels. I now realise just how important pollinators are to crops, and how important the grasslands are to pollinators. We're not a livestock area by any stretch - it's predominately an eastern arable landscape, but if we are to keep what we have, maintaining the grassland buffer along the waterways & the heathlands, grassland and woodland all benefits the arable side and mitigates, to a degree, against the pollution & erosion it causes.

We go on a lot about the effect of pesticides and fertilisers, but all too often we never mention drainage which is, I believe, the bigger problem with regards to pollution & climate change. Woodlands get all the fanfare, but acre for acre, peatlands store 20 times the carbon of woodlands. Livestock get the blame for a lot of GHG emissions but they are just a tool in land use change. The report you posted, a reputable organisation the UN may be, completely failed to mention undergrazing as a problem, yet overgrazing was certainly mentioned.

Regarding health, well, the evidence is far from universal. People who eat a lot of red meat tend to lead more unhealthy lifestyles so the figures are bound to appear skewed. The more comprehensive studies, such as EPIC, do not show a clear meat based health risk. If you want to draw such conclusions then why not blame the increased amount of fruit & veg that we in the West now eat?

We had less of everything in the war, and had to work harder, as Ty says, so it is disingenuous to blame the lack of meat & dairy alone for improved health. The figures (form the Nat Geo link) show that we're eating (35%) less of the meats I advocate eating today (or at least 2011) than in 1961 (we're also eating slightly less dairy).
dpack

kestrels are only one marker, the number and variety of owls is perhaps a better indicator of the numbers of small tasty snacks that live in meadow lands.

rob's patch has more owls than i have ever seen anywhere else (including owl sanctuaries).
Ty Gwyn

Likewise here regarding Tawney Owls,most evenings there is one hell of a conversation going on with them in the woods at the back of the house,
On the hill farm i lived at in South Wales,it was the Little Eared owls that were predominant with the occasional Barn Owl,
And both area`s had a variety of birds of prey in abundance.

Could the decline in Kestrels in Cornwall be down to Wind Turbines?
That was a point Bellamy brought up once.
dpack

the rspb recons wind turbines are a very minor factor in bird population declines and that food supply is the major limiting factor and that that is both insect and small critters being eradicated by high chemical input intensive agriculture and also the timing of various processes involved . Rob R

rob's patch has more owls than i have ever seen anywhere else (including owl sanctuaries).

I saw three different ones tonight. It's been a bad year for voles but numbers must be picking up now as there's less daytime flying going on.

There was a little owl sat on the shed the other day, too - we usually just hear them shouting. They all seem to be rubbing along with the turbines OK though.
Tavascarow

Tawny owls do well here too.
Their habitat is relatively unmanaged & pesticide free.
I'm talking barn owls & kestrels. Originally farmland species.
Ty you really need to get with the programme.
Everyone knows it's mobile phone masts & microwaves causing the problem not wind turbines. Wink
Yes Rob if we did away with intensive corn fed meat it would solve the problem of over production in the livestock sector & the arable.
I leaves us with the problem of what those farmers are going to grow to make a living which is a big problem.
As the UN report says the answer to the problem lies with small, mixed organic farms. Tell that to your 5,000 hectare cereal baron & see what he says.
Mistress Rose

I would agree with you about woodland Rob. Traditionally, the area close to the river, unless it meandered and changed course frequently, was often pasture, not woodland. That pasture was far too valuable for mere woodland, which tended to be on the less useful places.

Although my main interest is woodland, and I know very little about farming, I don't agree with putting trees all over the place at the expense of good farming land. There are some places that ought to have trees, but all uplands, and all water courses are not necessarily the right places. Each small area needs to be looked at separately but as part of a larger landscape.

I think that one of the reasons our health was good during rationing was because we took more natural exercise like walking and gardening. We now know that some of the things that were used for food, like high trans fat margarine, were possibly bad for us. One thing that will be of interest to future generations will also be what sort of age people that went through rationing died at, and what they died of. For instance there is a marked increase in Alzhiemers at present, and this is quite significantly among the generation that went through rationing during their childhood and young adult life. It may or may not be linked, but it will be interesting to find out if it reduces in the future. I am sure that there will be studies in the future about how this affected diseases that generation may have suffered more, but most of them will be starting in my very old age. Very Happy
Ty Gwyn

I'm talking barn owls & kestrels. Originally farmland species.
Ty you really need to get with the programme.

One of the biggest causes to Barn Owl decrease is the number of old barn`s being converted to housing,
Although your not short of old pumping houses in part`s of Cornwall.
Rob R


Yes Rob if we did away with intensive corn fed meat it would solve the problem of over production in the livestock sector & the arable.
I leaves us with the problem of what those farmers are going to grow to make a living which is a big problem.
As the UN report says the answer to the problem lies with small, mixed organic farms. Tell that to your 5,000 hectare cereal baron & see what he says.

Could you address exactly what you mean by eat less and pay more? I want to work out exactly how that would work, as I must get told many times each year that I should charge more and we should eat less. I always point out that my prices are only a minimum. To date noone has ever paid more.

At the moment the cereal baron is saying 'please graze my heathy grassland with your Dexters', but I'm limited by what people eat so it's difficult. This runaway consumption of meat is a myth - people want ever cheaper food, and no matter which way you cut it, meat isn't cheap, and the easiest way to get cheaper food is to cut out meat & dairy. Economics are stacked against meat & dairy.
Tavascarow


Yes Rob if we did away with intensive corn fed meat it would solve the problem of over production in the livestock sector & the arable.
I leaves us with the problem of what those farmers are going to grow to make a living which is a big problem.
As the UN report says the answer to the problem lies with small, mixed organic farms. Tell that to your 5,000 hectare cereal baron & see what he says.

Could you address exactly what you mean by eat less and pay more? I want to work out exactly how that would work, as I must get told many times each year that I should charge more and we should eat less. I always point out that my prices are only a minimum. To date noone has ever paid more.

At the moment the cereal baron is saying 'please graze my heathy grassland with your Dexters', but I'm limited by what people eat so it's difficult. This runaway consumption of meat is a myth - people want ever cheaper food, and no matter which way you cut it, meat isn't cheap, and the easiest way to get cheaper food is to cut out meat & dairy. Economics are stacked against meat & dairy. I don't disagree with you but overproduction is damaging the environment.
You say there isn't an over supply but if you look at historic consumption levels, they are increasing per capita. There are more people & they want more.
If production was limited to what a farm could grow itself, as you do, stocking rates would be a lot lower. If you heavily fertilize your pastures & feed clamp maize silage all winter (again a heavy fertilizer user), & also finished your bullocks on corn & soya your land could carry more stock. That IMHO is overproduction & what the majority are still doing.
Add to that the cheap imports from abroad & IMHO there's a lot more meat on the market shelves now than ever before.
I'm not saying I've got the answers I'm just saying agriculture as it stands is very damaging to the environment & needs to change.
I think it will have to change for pure economic reasons & hopefully before to many farmland species become extinct.
Tavascarow

I'm talking barn owls & kestrels. Originally farmland species.
Ty you really need to get with the programme.

One of the biggest causes to Barn Owl decrease is the number of old barn`s being converted to housing,
Although your not short of old pumping houses in part`s of Cornwall. Nest sites are important but food supply more so. There are three owl boxes & suitable empty barns near here but no owls nesting in any of them for years. I used to see owl pellets on the floor of one local barn so we did have birds roosting there if not nesting but I haven't seen any for at least ten years, maybe longer.
& like I said earlier this part of Britain is predominately pasture.
Rob R


Yes Rob if we did away with intensive corn fed meat it would solve the problem of over production in the livestock sector & the arable.
I leaves us with the problem of what those farmers are going to grow to make a living which is a big problem.
As the UN report says the answer to the problem lies with small, mixed organic farms. Tell that to your 5,000 hectare cereal baron & see what he says.

Could you address exactly what you mean by eat less and pay more? I want to work out exactly how that would work, as I must get told many times each year that I should charge more and we should eat less. I always point out that my prices are only a minimum. To date noone has ever paid more.

At the moment the cereal baron is saying 'please graze my heathy grassland with your Dexters', but I'm limited by what people eat so it's difficult. This runaway consumption of meat is a myth - people want ever cheaper food, and no matter which way you cut it, meat isn't cheap, and the easiest way to get cheaper food is to cut out meat & dairy. Economics are stacked against meat & dairy. I don't disagree with you but overproduction is damaging the environment.
You say there isn't an over supply but if you look at historic consumption levels, they are increasing per capita. There are more people & they want more.
If production was limited to what a farm could grow itself, as you do, stocking rates would be a lot lower. If you heavily fertilize your pastures & feed clamp maize silage all winter (again a heavy fertilizer user), & also finished your bullocks on corn & soya your land could carry more stock. That IMHO is overproduction & what the majority are still doing.
Add to that the cheap imports from abroad & IMHO there's a lot more meat on the market shelves now than ever before.
I'm not saying I've got the answers I'm just saying agriculture as it stands is very damaging to the environment & needs to change.
I think it will have to change for pure economic reasons & hopefully before to many farmland species become extinct.

You seem to be using a lot of adjectives to avoid facing the figures. I don't think we will address this if you can't do that. For the model you proposed to work, the figures need to show that it is viable.

We had fertiliser applied to the farm in 2002, before we moved here, and we had to pay for it. We worked out that the added bulk barely covered the fert bill and the crop was poorer as a result of challenging weather conditions. So yes, I do agree that farmers need to stop producing more than we need and force some prices up by restricting supply but you said that we were consuming too much - if consumption also drops then the price will fall further.

Small farms are productive places, as the UN agrees, and can produce a lot of food, but that food is only useful to the equation if people will eat it. Constantly encouraging them not to consume the food we can produce sustainably is damaging the environment as well as the viability of sustainable farming.
Mistress Rose

Am I wrong in thinking that what both of you are saying is that we should be growing on each farm what it will produce best without added input in terms of fertiliser and bought in feed?

The ideal in a mixed farm is to use the animal dung as the only fertiliser and to feed the excess grain/oil seed to the animals. Not always possible, but can be with some pooling of resources between farms. I know the farm I buy my meat from doesn't use his own feed in the winter, but he grows grain and sometimes flax, so overall, I wouldn't think he is a net taker of feed.

The cows round here miss the old brewery. The used to get the spent hops, and rumour had it that they queued up for them.
Tavascarow

Am I wrong in thinking that what both of you are saying is that we should be growing on each farm what it will produce best without added input in terms of fertiliser and bought in feed?

The ideal in a mixed farm is to use the animal dung as the only fertiliser and to feed the excess grain/oil seed to the animals. Not always possible, but can be with some pooling of resources between farms. I know the farm I buy my meat from doesn't use his own feed in the winter, but he grows grain and sometimes flax, so overall, I wouldn't think he is a net taker of feed.


The cows round here miss the old brewery. The used to get the spent hops, and rumour had it that they queued up for them.
The ideal for me is a sustainable system less reliant on man made inputs & poisons with a carbon footprint that is declining not increasing.
I'm talking as the industry as a whole when I say that.
Using edible waste from a neighbours brewing is far preferable to importing grain from America & yes local farms pooling resources & machinery is good for the planet & the farmers margins (if not for the machinery manufacturer & the finance company).



You seem to be using a lot of adjectives to avoid facing the figures. I don't think we will address this if you can't do that. For the model you proposed to work, the figures need to show that it is viable.

We had fertiliser applied to the farm in 2002, before we moved here, and we had to pay for it. We worked out that the added bulk barely covered the fert bill and the crop was poorer as a result of challenging weather conditions. So yes, I do agree that farmers need to stop producing more than we need and force some prices up by restricting supply but you said that we were consuming too much - if consumption also drops then the price will fall further.

Small farms are productive places, as the UN agrees, and can produce a lot of food, but that food is only useful to the equation if people will eat it. Constantly encouraging them not to consume the food we can produce sustainably is damaging the environment as well as the viability of sustainable farming.

Rob I notice you haven't said anything about my comment regarding organic registration?
I think it's a valid point. As I said earlier on the surface & certainly from a more ignorant consumers point of view your system & my neighbours aren't very different. Raising beef in a suckler herd on grass & conserved silage/hay is one thing, but his use of excess fertilizer & pesticides is very different & we as consumers, & you as an ethical producer need a recognised method to easily know the difference.
& in that report the UN said small, mixed organic farms are the answer IIRC.

I think the industry as a whole (not just the farmers) has for sometime been very good at promoting itself without telling the whole truth about the actual cost of production & damage to the environment.
I think farmers are struggling, but at the same time not adapting, but expecting the consumers to buy regardless.
Add to that a retail system that drives costs & profit margins down so only the largest most intensive systems survive because on such low profit margins mass production is the only answer.
I have sympathy but at the same time I wont support a system any more than I have to that's playing a large part in the destruction of the nature I hold very dear.
There aren't any figures there but thems the facts as I see them.
Rob R




You seem to be using a lot of adjectives to avoid facing the figures. I don't think we will address this if you can't do that. For the model you proposed to work, the figures need to show that it is viable.

We had fertiliser applied to the farm in 2002, before we moved here, and we had to pay for it. We worked out that the added bulk barely covered the fert bill and the crop was poorer as a result of challenging weather conditions. So yes, I do agree that farmers need to stop producing more than we need and force some prices up by restricting supply but you said that we were consuming too much - if consumption also drops then the price will fall further.

Small farms are productive places, as the UN agrees, and can produce a lot of food, but that food is only useful to the equation if people will eat it. Constantly encouraging them not to consume the food we can produce sustainably is damaging the environment as well as the viability of sustainable farming.

Rob I notice you haven't said anything about my comment regarding organic registration?
I think it's a valid point. As I said earlier on the surface & certainly from a more ignorant consumers point of view your system & my neighbours aren't very different. Raising beef in a suckler herd on grass & conserved silage/hay is one thing, but his use of excess fertilizer & pesticides is very different & we as consumers, & you as an ethical producer need a recognised method to easily know the difference.
& in that report the UN said small, mixed organic farms are the answer IIRC.

I think the industry as a whole (not just the farmers) has for sometime been very good at promoting itself without telling the whole truth about the actual cost of production & damage to the environment.
I think farmers are struggling, but at the same time not adapting, but expecting the consumers to buy regardless.
Add to that a retail system that drives costs & profit margins down so only the largest most intensive systems survive because on such low profit margins mass production is the only answer.
I have sympathy but at the same time I wont support a system any more than I have to that's playing a large part in the destruction of the nature I hold very dear.
There aren't any figures there but thems the facts as I see them.

You specifically stated the following;

Quote:
I would prefer your meat to be a luxury item, & command a similar price. So we don't have to over consume to keep you in business & you & those like you don't overproduce.


I am just trying to establish what it is that you mean by that, and what sort of prices and production figures we are talking about?

As regards organic registration, I don't think that is what the UN mean when they say 'small, mixed organic farms', as organic registration only comes into it's own in to the long supply chains that we have in the west. If we are also supplying our local community, as is also the crux of the UN report, registration becomes superfluous.

I asked about organic registration again a couple of weeks ago, as it would be a lot easier to have that label for what we do in any case but the problem with that it that, although I can graze non-organic cattle on organic land for 120 days per year, I can't graze organic cattle on non-organic land, therefore every area of grazing would have to go through organic conversion for the three-year period, even if it were SSSI land that has been continually managed organically. Organics is perfect for the larger farms that own or FBT all their land in a ring fence, but is impossible for new start-ups such as mine that don't have a single large land asset. I could convert our 37 acres here no problem, but, even with organics, I couldn't charge enough of a premium to make it viable on that scale.

The clincher, for my own ethics, however, is animal welfare. To be an organic farm we would have to use an organic abattoir. Our nearest organic abattoir that does cattle is 13 miles away, but doesn't do private kills. The nearest that does, and also does pigs, cattle and sheep, is 56 miles away. So, my animals would be travelling an extra 56 miles to slaughter, 112 round trip, which would need to be done at least twice, three times if they have an overnight lairage (which I also prefer for welfare & meat quality reasons), so that's 336 extra miles.

For that to work, both from an environmental or cost point of view, I would need to take my yearly output all at once. Aside from the labour requirements, and the fact that I'd need a huge chiller that runs once a year, people simply don't shop like that - small and local works a lot better than organic, particularly if customers are informed and can visit the farm to see for themselves.


I think you are totally wrong about farmers struggling & expecting consumers to buy regardless. Certainly there are some like that, particularly as the farming population ages, but there are also plenty out there who are looking to be more environmentally and cost aware.

The problem for us all is that the demand from the public simply isn't there, in sufficient quantity, to justify it. If farmers are going more environmentally friendly they are doing it off their own backs, or to be more cost effective, not because of a public crying out for their produce.

ETA - In fact there is too much competition in the ethical market with more producers than consumers, which is partly why I think that we need to be eating more, not less, of this produce if we are to have a hope of encouraging more farmers to change.
Tavascarow

I appreciate your situation as a tenant farmer with regards to organic registration.
I imagine if your landlord registered his land, he would want the premium so it wouldn't benefit you in any way, no doubt he would charge you more in rent.
Maybe the taxation system should be more environmentally skewed so he gets tax breaks if his land is registered & you pocket the premium.
Also taxation of environmentally damaging systems should be a given IMHO now we know how much damage they actually do.
I don't know how we get people to eat less & farmers to produce less.
As you have said demand & prices are high & as long as that's the case farmers will continue to produce.
If we could encourage them into alternative crops so less meat was produced, & by ethical farmers like yourself on environmentally sensitive lands that require grazing.
But it's all hypothesis.
If I had my way I would tax the pesticide companies out of business to the same extent as tobacco is, & force TV to show people exactly how their food is produced & how much damage it causes, instead of the halcyon rose tinted version the NFU like to paint.
Rob R

If it was a case of 'a' landlord, there wouldn't be as much of a problem, as things would be simpler, but the registration bodies aren't keen on registering short term lets and many different landlords. It also isn't in the interests of the landowners to register land if they don't have the security - I could be out of business by next year.

However, none of that addresses the fact that the abattoir is 56 miles away. I guess I could persuade the local abattoir to register as organic, but again it relies upon more people eating the produce, as they're not going to go to the expense & hassle of registering for my handful of animals a year.
Rob R

As I always say, soundbites offering a simple solution to a complex problem are doing more harm than good. Rob R

Am I wrong in thinking that what both of you are saying is that we should be growing on each farm what it will produce best without added input in terms of fertiliser and bought in feed?

That's certainly my aim, with the addition of no pesticides. Providing it is also practical to do so, of course. There seems to be an idea going round that you can have a small, diversified farm, but as those who have tried it will testify, it is incredibly labour intensive so, in reality, the ends don't justify the means.

Specialisation happened for good reason. We could go back to the ways of the past, providing we could find the labour force, but it would mean going back to paying a greater proportion of our incomes on food, and having less choice, just like it used to be. And of course the paying public would have to actively support it to make it happen.
Tavascarow



Specialisation happened for good reason. We could go back to the ways of the past, providing we could find the labour force, but it would mean going back to paying a greater proportion of our incomes on food, and having less choice, just like it used to be. And of course the paying public would have to actively support it to make it happen. There we agree but I don't have the answers any more than you do. The proportion of income that was once spent on food is now being paid in interest to banks & building societies.
Our society has been hijacked by the finance industry.
(I would like it known that that statement was typed with little correction after seven pints of the best Cornish (ah Cornwall i love you) bitter). Specialisation doesn't have to happen for good reason. It can happen for bad as well.
Rob R



Specialisation happened for good reason. We could go back to the ways of the past, providing we could find the labour force, but it would mean going back to paying a greater proportion of our incomes on food, and having less choice, just like it used to be. And of course the paying public would have to actively support it to make it happen. There we agree but I don't have the answers any more than you do.

No, but we have the figures, which show that meat & dairy combined, as a proportion of overall world diet, is the same whereas fruit & veg has risen by 4% (or if you look at the UK, -9% & +8% respectively), yet you seem happy to lay the blame for poor health on even the 'healthy' meat (that I suspect, but the figures don't show, has decreased as a proportion of the total).

The proportion of income that was once spent on food is now being paid in interest to banks & building societies.
Our society has been hijacked by the finance industry.
(I would like it known that that statement was typed with little correction after seven pints of the best Cornish (ah Cornwall i love you) bitter). Specialisation doesn't have to happen for good reason. It can happen for bad as well.

Perhaps I should therefore conclude that the finance industry is having a positive effect, and the binge drinking culture, a negative one. Wink
Mistress Rose

I don't really think too much of schemes like the organic ones, and others that make you jump through lots of hoops at great expense, and pay them a fee to register. You are probably a lot better off doing what you are doing Rob, and your animals are better off too. What on earth is the difference between an 'organic' and 'non-organic' abattoir'. They are killing the animals not feeding them for a long time.

Tavascarow, are you advocating eating less meat, or less food of any sort? I know we tend to eat perhaps a few more calories than a strictly necessary, but we do need food. Housing and utility costs have replaced food as the main expenditure for most people, and if both partners are working, leaves less time to cook and eat decent food.
Rob R

I don't really think too much of schemes like the organic ones, and others that make you jump through lots of hoops at great expense, and pay them a fee to register. You are probably a lot better off doing what you are doing Rob, and your animals are better off too. What on earth is the difference between an 'organic' and 'non-organic' abattoir'. They are killing the animals not feeding them for a long time.

Here is what the Soil Association have to say on the matter;

Quote:
Concern for the welfare of animals is central to our organic principles. This applies throughout the animal's life including slaughter. Our standards require that animals are taken to an abattoir that holds an organic license. Slaughter systems must be designed and managed to ensure livestock are not caused unnecessary distress. They must operate in a way that avoids contamination of organic and non organic meat.

Our licensees are inspected annually to ensure that they are complying with our standards. They are also subject to spot inspections without advanced warning. If the abattoir is also killing non organic animals, we require that a Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) inspector or other nominated authority checks animal welfare and correct identification.


I wouldn't use an abattoir if I wasn't confident of all the above soI guess, once again, it is more about the paper trail than the actual process.
Mistress Rose

I am sure a lot of farmers are the same Rob. Being happy yourself about the abattoir is more important than bits of paper. This is why I am not keen on a lot of 'schemes' like that of the Soil Association, worthy as they might be, that involve the holder of the certificate paying out money. Others who don't want the hassle or can't or don't want to pay out the certificate may be just as good, if not better. Tavascarow

Unfortunately yes.
Accountability is very important. Any farmer can say his food is wholesome & environmentally friendly. (a lot do).
That accountability costs money to administer.
& the organic sector receives very little money from the state.
So the producer has to foot the bill.
I was reading an article a few days ago that claimed the Duchy of Cornwall, & Dukes of Bedfordshire & Westminster receive between them over two million pounds in agricultural subsidies.
That is (I guess) a lot less than the soil association spend on administration of its organic standards.
I'm not attacking the landed gentry, there are plenty of untitled farmers receiving vast subsidies as well who can afford to do without them.
If we are serious about protecting the environment then we need to divert funds from destructive forms of agriculture to those that aren't.
Mistress Rose

I would agree we need to move to non-destructive agriculture Tavascarow, but we as a company in the related forestry sector could pay out lots of money to various schemes to 'prove' that we were doing our work correctly. Some of them might be worth while, but others are really just a way of an organisation limiting us while wasting valuable materials and getting money out of us. I am thinking of a scheme that at one time insisted that all firewood was from straight wood (no forks, defects etc.), had to be within 10% of the stated length (+or -) and we had to say what percentage of each timber we were using, then pay a fixed amount plus so much a tonne delivered.

The way we do it is to cut all the timber we have available that will make suitable logs for burning, minimum 4" diameter, split as necessary, with a maximum length as stated by the customer. We tell them what the majority timbers are and what others they may find in there. If they ask for no birch for instance, or more oak, we try to accommodate this, but we don't give a separate paper with all the percentages on. Over length may mean that the log won't fit in the fire, but underlength doesn't matter two hoots.

We try to give a personal service to our customers. Occasionally we fail, and some go round to different firewood producers each year, but we have some very long term customers, so we must be doing something right.
Tavascarow



No, but we have the figures, which show that meat & dairy combined, as a proportion of overall world diet, is the same whereas fruit & veg has risen by 4% (or if you look at the UK, -9% & +8% respectively), yet you seem happy to lay the blame for poor health on even the 'healthy' meat (that I suspect, but the figures don't show, has decreased as a proportion of the total).
Where have those figures come from? & over what timescale?


Here's another UN paper that disputes that.
Quote:
Livestock, a major factor in the growth of world agriculture. The world food economy is being increasingly driven by the shift of diets and food consumption patterns towards livestock products. Some use the term«food revolution» to refer to these trends (Delgado et al., 1999). In the developing countries, where almost all world population increases take place, consumption of meat has been growing at 5-6 percent p.a. and that of milk and dairy products at 3.4-3.8 percent p.a. in the last few decades. Aggregate agricultural output is being affected by these trends, not only through the growth of livestock production proper, but also through the linkages of livestock production to the crop sector which supplies the feeding stuffs (mainly cereals and oilseeds), and benefits from the important crop-livestock synergies prevailing in mixed farming systems (de Haan et al., 1998).
Ty Gwyn

In the developing countries, where almost all world population increases take place, consumption of meat has been growing at 5-6 percent p.a. and that of milk and dairy products at 3.4-3.8 percent p.a. in the last few decades.

What has that got to do with UK consumption of meat and dairy?
Rob R



No, but we have the figures, which show that meat & dairy combined, -as a proportion of overall world diet, is the same whereas fruit & veg has risen by 4% (or if you look at the UK, -9% & +8% respectively), yet you seem happy to lay the blame for poor health on even the 'healthy' meat (that I suspect, but the figures don't show, has decreased as a proportion of the total).
Where have those figures come from? & over what timescale?


The same source I have quoted throughout, which was the Nat Geo one taking figures from FAOSTAT. The dataset they used is available here. The timescale was 1961-2011.
Tavascarow



No, but we have the figures, which show that meat & dairy combined, -as a proportion of overall world diet, is the same whereas fruit & veg has risen by 4% (or if you look at the UK, -9% & +8% respectively), yet you seem happy to lay the blame for poor health on even the 'healthy' meat (that I suspect, but the figures don't show, has decreased as a proportion of the total).
Where have those figures come from? & over what timescale?


The same source I have quoted throughout, which was the Nat Geo one taking figures from FAOSTAT. The dataset they used is available here. The timescale was 1961-2011. Excuse me but a quick browse shows figures from 1993 to 2013 in all the instances I looked at in various sectors.
There's nothing there from the 1960's that I can see.
It would account for the discrepancies as the source is the same (Food & Agriculture Organisation of the UN.) .
Per capita we eat a lot more meat now than we did in the 1960's.
I appreciate & accept a good proportion of that is pork & poultry but production of beef has increased as well, & the methods are more intensive & more environmentally damaging, & that trend seems to be increasing.
Rob R



No, but we have the figures, which show that meat & dairy combined, -as a proportion of overall world diet, is the same whereas fruit & veg has risen by 4% (or if you look at the UK, -9% & +8% respectively), yet you seem happy to lay the blame for poor health on even the 'healthy' meat (that I suspect, but the figures don't show, has decreased as a proportion of the total).
Where have those figures come from? & over what timescale?


The same source I have quoted throughout, which was the Nat Geo one taking figures from FAOSTAT. The dataset they used is available here. The timescale was 1961-2011. Excuse me but a quick browse shows figures from 1993 to 2013 in all the instances I looked at in various sectors.
There's nothing there from the 1960's that I can see.
It would account for the discrepancies as the source is the same (Food & Agriculture Organisation of the UN.) .
Per capita we eat a lot more meat now than we did in the 1960's.
I appreciate & accept a good proportion of that is pork & poultry but production of beef has increased as well, & the methods are more intensive & more environmentally damaging, & that trend seems to be increasing.

The dataset goes all the way back to 1961.

Please stop using the words 'a lot more' if you can't qualify the statement. If you have the figures, use them.
Tavascarow

Where does it go back to 1961?
All the graphs I saw where from 1993 to 2013.
Tavascarow

From the paper I quoted from.
World Food consumption of meat per capita 1964/66 24.2 kg Carcass weight equivalent.

1997/99 36.4kgs

2015 (predicted) 41.3 kgs

2030 (obviously predicted) 45.3 kgs.
Figures.
Rob R

Where does it go back to 1961?
All the graphs I saw where from 1993 to 2013.

I'm not sure where you're looking, but the link I provided was to datasets, not graphs. The drop down menu under 'year' goes back to 1961 up to 2013.
dpack

i suspect my hounds and me get more than our fair share

eg .lots of df ,a pig ,a mutton ,maybe a 1/3 of a steer, plus fish,chooks, sausages etc etc per year

that said tt and sd eat less meat than most folk so perhaps it evens up as a household

we also eat a lot of veg and salad as well ,oddly all of us are quite skinny especially chompski who is very toned

ed that is mostly pesticide free .low chem input food though.
Rob R

From the paper I quoted from.
World Food consumption of meat per capita 1964/66 24.2 kg Carcass weight equivalent.

1997/99 36.4kgs

2015 (predicted) 41.3 kgs

2030 (obviously predicted) 45.3 kgs.
Figures.

That seems to be quite conservative compared to my data which, for 1997, is equivalent to 52.56kg.

However my figures are the combined total of animal products with a slight reduction of dairy (per capita) and increase in meat. I've compared this with the level of fruit & veg consumption for comparison.

You previously said that;


But we already consume more than is healthy, & not enough vegetable or fibre in the diet, so how eating more will make us healthier I fail to see.

I eat what you would call a high meat diet, about in line with the average figures, so when I started keeping a food diary a few months ago, due to a change in medication, I decided, out of interest, to see if I was getting enough fibre. It turned out that I was getting plenty with little effort, which is perfectly in line with my view that eating meat does not mean that you have an unhealthy diet.

I heard on the radio the other day, so I don't have a source but it was R4, that over half of the massive increase in calories in the US over the last half century has come from the increased consumption of veg oil. I've just run the figures through the graphics and we see that the US (2011) consumes 16% more food overall by weight (2729g v 2352g in 1961) but a huge 154% increase in veg oil (84g v 33g). (Their calorie intake has risen by 26% to 3641 Calories in the same timeframe)
dpack

in pursuit of increasing calories over time the amounts of corn sugars in many processed foods and soft drinks should get a mention.

again a corn product and based on intensive arable
Rob R

we also eat a lot of veg and salad as well ,oddly all of us are quite skinny especially chompski who is very toned

Cross posted and well timed - the obesity/meat link is a curious one, as everyone I know who eats a lot of it are more like chompski than miss bacon.
dpack

this is a bit of a simplistic assessment but broadly accurate

the processed ready meals,high calorie sweet or salty or fatty snacks and sugar based drinks are cheap and very easy to eat far too much of whereas well prepared meat,fats ,veg etc can be high calorie but they seem to have triggers to tell you enough is enough.

another factor is that calories from meat and fat are easy to use and difficult to store unlike calories from corn syrup/oil or super processed meat based products which are hard to use and easy to store

it is important to take into account that "calories" in food are measured by setting it on fire rather than by digesting it into bits and then using those bits in a physiological system.
Rob R

it is important to take into account that "calories" in food are measured by setting it on fire rather than by digesting it into bits and then using those bits in a physiological system.

Yup Laughing
Mistress Rose

One thing to consider when looking at meat consumption on a world wide scale is that the aspiration of a lot of developing countries is to eat a 'Western' diet, which may contain more meat than their traditional one. This was an aspiration in the UK in the past too; the poor in the 17th century for instance ate nearly entirely vegetables, whereas the rich ate almost entirely meat. Those in the middle, who tended to be the healthiest, ate both.

I would be surprised if meat consumption in the UK had risen significantly since 1961. It still wasn't unusual to have a fried breakfast, or at least bacon then, whereas most people now have cereal or toast.
Tavascarow

Anyway total consumption of meat is another subject & more to do with global climate change. This thread is really about pesticides & their damage to the environment.
Here's a set of figures showing the increase of fertilizers & pesticides over a similar time period.
Fertilizers & pesticides an empirical view.
I can't find anything on neonicotinoid production figures.
dpack

fertilisers and pesticides are deeply connected to the production of products such as corn oil/syrup ,feeds to produce industrial meat ,dairy and eggs etc etc . Rob R

fertilisers and pesticides are deeply connected to the production of products such as corn oil/syrup ,feeds to produce industrial meat ,dairy and eggs etc etc .

And veg oil; which is also driving industrial meat production. Targetting meat production when this stuff is still being churned out, is rather missing the point if we're looking to avoid pesticides and help the wildlife. When the bath is overflowing it's better to turn the tap off before pulling the plug out.
dpack

something i have noticed is that things grown in monoculture are often troubled by pests,if there is a biodiverse environment the pests are controlled by predation.

my brambles are a good example ,there are "weeds" at the base,the aphids are controlled by the sparrow chicks,ladybirds and wasps etc etc and the many types of bees do pollination.a few years ago when the system was establishing the aphids were quite a problem and debilitated the brambles considerably but now there is a multi insect system the yield has gone up from some to lots.
if i had gone for the "no hiding place"pesticide route pollination would probably be an issue although there would be little aphid degradation.

working with nature works best,i spose it is a bit like the difference between a wooden sail boat that needs some wind ,sticks and fibres and or a metal steam boat that is nowt but scrap without a constant supply of coal and metal .the latter might be a bit faster but you cant grow a new rudder or "engine"for a steamer,long term humans need to supply themselves sustainably or the four horsemen will reduce demand until they can.

industrialisation has been about profit not about best practice and although some industrial methods are the best option they are not often the ones adopted due to the short term profit motives of a few.
Rob R

I'm inclined to say that we should take the focus entirely off what we are producing and instead focus on how we are producing it - square pegs and round holes spring to mind, in many cases. dpack

spot on ,tis the means that is the problem rather than the product or even the volume

i see no reason that the amount produced would reduce if sustainable means was normal,perhaps yields would actually rise with sensible methods and it is possible costs may also reduce,

it might require some adjustments to breeds ,selective breeding etc as well as some changes of land use but the best of traditional with the best of modern practice could be very sensible.

i think the basic equation of sustainable is

sunlight+environment>good methods>environment +food
where good methods maintain the environment in a productive condition
Tavascarow

I'm inclined to say that we should take the focus entirely off what we are producing and instead focus on how we are producing it - square pegs and round holes spring to mind, in many cases. But how?
My personal choice would be heavy taxation on all forms of environmental destruction, in all industries.
But our world is heading in completely the opposite direction.
TTIP will allow American multinationals & their subsidiaries to sue governments that get in their way.
That includes environmental protection legislation.
Our current government have already put a for sale sign up before that trade agreement is signed.
As far as I can see nowhere in Britain is safe.
Rob R

I'm inclined to say that we should take the focus entirely off what we are producing and instead focus on how we are producing it - square pegs and round holes spring to mind, in many cases. But how?
My personal choice would be heavy taxation on all forms of environmental destruction, in all industries.
But our world is heading in completely the opposite direction.
TTIP will allow American multinationals & their subsidiaries to sue governments that get in their way.
That includes environmental protection legislation.
Our current government have already put a for sale sign up before that trade agreement is signed.
As far as I can see nowhere in Britain is safe.

It's a difficult one, because it's not just governments that need convincing, so many NGOs are hung up on the idea that simply ditching the meat will make everything alright.

There's plenty of talk of positive feedback for organics & small scale, sustainable farming but I think a lot of that is pulling the wool over everyone's eyes to make it sound better. I think the biggest changes for more sustainable production is coming largely from within the industry with regards to pesticides and fertilisers. Plenty of farmers are cutting back for both financial reasons & plenty more are interested in conservation, but finding a way to reward that is difficult unless they go full blown organic.

Ultimately though financial incentives are the only way to go, whilst maintaining the pressure politically. People need and want to make money so if 'good' is lucrative then it's all good.

The main issue is that the public as a whole find conservation as dull as ditchwater, you can see that from our facebook interactions. Those that do engage with our wildlife posts, largely, eat very little or no meat at all - the more health concious people are the ones that eat a lot of our produce. There are plenty of people trying to think of a way to tackle this issue (the non-financial benefits of farming) even in the NFU, who I was talking to about such things this morning, but it's a tough one.

Many people in conservation see Tories and the NFU as 'enemies', and I don't think that helps either - pushing your opponents out onto the fringes only makes them more opposite. This is a problem for us all, no matter who we are, and we need more inclusive dialogue.
dpack

do i remember a recent news article about the "new dust bowl" and gm pest/herbicide use in the corn and wheat lands of the usa and that the economic survivors were returning to low artificial fertiliser,low pesticides had actually increased yields as well as profits a couple of years after conversion?
the high input /gm with dedicated chems way was becoming less and less effective so they are now doing it like grandad did.(perhaps with bigger machines than grandad)
Rob R

do i remember a recent news article about the "new dust bowl" and gm pest/herbicide use in the corn and wheat lands of the usa and that the economic survivors were returning to low artificial fertiliser,low pesticides had actually increased yields as well as profits a couple of years after conversion?
the high input /gm with dedicated chems way was becoming less and less effective so they are now doing it like grandad did.(perhaps with bigger machines than grandad)

I don't think this is the one you meant, but it's interesting none-the-less, and they're not falling for the old 'just blame it on the cow'.
dpack

roughly the same area,same drought and soil degradation but arable specific.i will have a look for it ,iirc it was a abandoning monsanto gm themed article but it was the going back to granpappy's ways of managing the soil and the crop will look after itself aspect that caught my attention. Mistress Rose

An interesting article. There was a programme I saw on TV that was about moving cattle from one enclosure to another that made the best use of the grass too. I think that was from a fairly dry region, but not as dry as that. They were able to keep the grass cover because the cows were moved after only a short period on the land, which gave the grass the chance to recover and not be worn or grazed out.
       Downsizer Forum Index -> Conservation and Environment Page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2
Home Home Home Home Home