I’m looking forward to the demonstration outside DEFRA tomorrow in London from noon, organised by the Land Workers’ Alliance (LWA). I’m giving a brief talk about the issues facing new entrants to farming and land work generally – and of course the main one is access to land. The demo should be a really good day (especially if the nice weather holds); and there will be a mini farmers’ market stall there too, to highlight how productive small- and medium-scale farms and market gardens can be, even in the middle of the Hungry Gap (rather unfortunate timing for veg growers!). We are hoping to remind DEFRA and other policymakers that smaller scale agriculture and land workers really does need more attention when it comes to formulating policy and implementing EU legislation. Grand sweeping schemes to ‘help farmers’ often equate to sops to wealthy landowners and corporate agribusiness, which do nothing to help us – in fact they often have the opposite effect if large-scale farming practices get subsidies and grants from central governments, therefore undercutting artisanal producers trying to earn a basic living wage, often on rented land; who often produce more food per acre in a more sustainable way, and using more labour rather than fossil fuels and chemicals (therefore creating more jobs).
The demo is to mark International Peasants Day, as the LWA is a member of international peasant organisation La Via Campesina. It’s all very exciting; I just hope that there are some DEFRA people around to notice. Someone told me that they tend not to be around much on a Thursday afternoon. Maybe if they have the afternoon off they can come along and join the demo? Everyone is welcome; banners, beards and bailing twine aren’t mandatory.