Posts Tagged ‘animal welfare’

Can business force changes in farming practices

The great video below shows how a US restaurant chain is hoping to win customers by influencing change to food industry practices. In particular the intensive factory farming of animals. Great to see but will it have a long lasting effect?

The problem is that while factory farming exists somewhere in the world cheap and ‘nasty’ food will be available via take-aways, restaurants and retailers. In this country we have high animal welfare rules but still see foreign meat on our supermarket shelves where the animals have been reared in appalling conditions.

My view is that we need to change the way we shop and remove the marketeers, middle men, and retailers, from the supply chain.

By this I mean reconnecting consumers with producers and encouraging trade and communication. Communication about how animals have been reared, with producers perhaps changing to meet the wishes of their customers. And hopefully, leaving both supplier and consumer happy.

I am sure for instance that a free range farmer with happy customers, must be happier and more satisfied than a farmer rearing animals intensively with price pressure from retail buyers.

Also, by cutting out the middle men, transport and retailers we should end up with vastly better food for not much more money.

To have your say and influence local food production find your local producers using our local food map, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Curing a Mad, Mad world with Food

I think most people agree we live in a mad world. 10% of the worlds population owns 85% of total assets, over 3 billion people (nearly half the world) live on less that $2.50 per day, and in the UK milk is cheaper than water in some shops.

People are starving when, according to expert Colin Trudge; ‘everyone who is ever liable to be born could be well fed, forever, not simply on basic provender but to the highest standards of nutrition and gastronomy.’

I strongly recommend you read his article ‘Feeding people is easy

According to Colin; ‘If we get the food right then everything else that we need and want in life—good health, fine landscapes, the company of other species, peace, amity, personal fulfilment can start to fall into place.’

Wow, his article certainly makes sense and with facts like; ‘We currently feed well over half the staples that could be feeding us, to cattle, pigs, and poultry. So instead of helping us to feed ourselves, our animals compete with us. By 2050, on present trends, the world’s livestock will consume enough to feed four billion people.’

Madness. But what can we do? Quite a lot, and hopefully start a trend that could spread around the world. The three main problems we have at the moment are; 1. appalling animal welfare making meat too cheap 2. in this country, only 9p in every £1 spent of food going back to the farmer and 3. lack of cooking knowledge and enthusiasm (despite all the shows on TV)

The corporate world has acquired the food industry, taking the other 91p in the £1 and is milking it, for all it is worth.

The exciting consequence is that the corporates have become greedy and complacent, thinking they also ‘own’ the consumer. Luckily, in this green and pleasant land, we have an alternative; Local food producers, who are cheaper and better.

If we switch to local nearly all of the £1 we spend goes back to the farmer and community. This encourages greater production and diversity, increasing employment and getting people involved in their local food industry. Sharing recipes, cooking, preserving and even cider making.

With our Crop for the Shop initiative local people, kids, or schools can even join, and earn, from the industry. Food could become the community builder for the future.

And animal welfare? Successive legislation has not been enough. We simply don’t have the right to keep animals the way many are ‘farmed’. Corporates have taken over and show the consumer great packaging and the tasty, sauce covered, product on a plate. Carefully hiding the story of its production. To see an example of this and the horror of pig farming click The Pig Business

If we embrace, and switch to, a local food industry, we may need to pay a bit more for really good meat and perhaps cut down a little. We will however save money, have a clear conscience, and in time, be healthier, and live in a better, more sustainable, community.

Or am I just dreaming? Your thoughts are very welcome below. Or if you agree switch to local using the BigBarn local food map, and tell your friends.

BigBarn Crowd Funding Opens Today

BigBarn Crowd funding went live today.  Please have a look by clicking here and we welcome your comments below.
Crowd funding is BigBarn’s way to raise funds to capitalise on success, as well as gain the buy-in of those on the BigBarn map and consumers wanting a local food industry to compete with the supermarkets.

The investment will be used to make improvements to BigBarn’s in house technology as well as raise awareness to products and services through marketing and PR.

Buy-in will be interesting. BigBarn is a CIC meaning fat cat salaries cannot be paid and profits have to be reinvested in the business and distributed to investors. Essentially BigBarn wants to build a Local Food industry that is owned by its communities of producers and consumers.

Surely a great ambition, so please click here to see more on investing or visit the BigBarn home page.

For more on BigBarn and crowd funding see this post. And we welcome your comments below.

BigBarn gets bigger with Crowd Funding

What better way to achieve BigBarn’s mission to build a new LOCAL food industry than to invite all to put their money where their mouths are, and invest.

80% of people say they want local food and are fed up with reading about the National Food Industry. Where farmers only get, on average, 9p in every £1 spent on food in the supermarket, where this lack of income causes food scares through cost cutting, and huge factory farms are planned decreasing animal welfare.

Most people want to see a viable alternative and is why BigBarn exists. After trading for 10 years BigBarn has built the tools, database, knowledge and partners, to grow local supply chains where they already exist or build them everywhere else. A supply chain where farmers get a fair price, food is grown for flavour, not shelf life, animal welfare is obvious and local people are even encouraged to Crop for the Shop.

The more demand the more supply and the cheaper the food will get.

BigBarn is already a Community Interest Company and is offering its community’s of producers and consumers, in other words, everyone, the opportunity to buy shares in the business and share in its current, and future, success.

Crowd funding means that anyone can invest, from £30 to £30,000+, and get shares and a number of extra benefits. The money raised will be used to expand on BigBarn’s long list of products and services to catalyse the growth of local food trade throughout the UK.

By investing shareholders will be encouraged to shop locally, helping build their local supply chain and know that the more they shop and tell their friends, and the more their shares and dividends will be worth.

Wow, could it really be this easy? YES, if we act! For more on this WIN WIN opportunity email ant@bigbarn.co.uk to get on the share offer register or subscribe to BigBarn’s free post code specific newsletter.

Food prices ‘will double by 2030′, Oxfam warns

As a 5th generation farmer I woke up this morning to hear the good news on Radio 4 that food prices would double by 2030. Selfish I know but when for the last 10 years most farmers in this country have made very little money an increase in prices is needed to keep them in business.

But what about feeding the world and making food affordable for all? A highly efficient commodity based farming system or local small community farmer approach?

In poorer countries 80% of people’s income is spent on food compared to 10-20% in richer countries. So really high prices can really cause big problems.

The Today programme was debating the case of growing more food to meet the growing demand either by encouraging small farmers to give more jobs and sustainable farming systems, or allowing investment in, to have more really large, super efficient, farms.

Having seen both in my travels I recommend both. There is a place for large farms with massive machinery, especially in places where populations are low and the land is not being used. Such as some parts of Brazil, Africa and Eastern Europe.

There is also a place for small farms, rearing animals and growing a range of crops. These farms are more labour intensive and can become the centre of the community linking consumers directly with food and shortening the supply chain. In this country when on average, only 9p in every £1 spent of food goes to the farmer, buying direct can mean much cheaper food.

Big farms also have their place as the smaller farms often need to buy feed for their animals. But we need a great deal of infrastructure and regulation. Such as efficient storage and transport to handle and move the commodities. And regulation to protect the small farmers who do exist, as well as to protect the environment from pollution and animals from cruel farming practices. Far to often large corporate farms are run by accountants cutting costs when prices are low. When this causes animal welfare to drop this cannot be allowed. See Pig Business for an example

Price fluctuation is one of the big dangers to large farmers and poorer people. And a single commodity based large farming system would mean greater fluctuations. The answer is simple. Dramatically increase world stocks of grain. Grain can be stored easily as proved by quality grain found in the pyramids.

World grain stocks have been dropping for years, and to me are irresponsibly low. If world leaders decided to increase stock levels and buy grain when prices were low, selling when relatively high, world prices would become much more stable and there would be enough stock to avert starvation if a world crop failure ever happened.

Unfortunately with America and Europe in debt and a blind belief in a global market economy, world leaders are more likely to pass the buck.

What can you do? Comment below, and get our food economy working. We are lucky in this country to have the big farmers and high animal welfare, but we need to support the small local farmers where food is fresher and often cheaper and more convenient. Find your local producers using the BigBarn local food map and tell your friends. As we buy more local food local farmers are encouraged to grow a wider range of foods, or join the food industry and Crop for the Shop. Let’s show the world how to build a more robust and sustainable food economy.