SFK has not been idle recently: we've been in contact with like-minded groups around Wales with the aim of organising a day of action at the Senedd in Cardiff on February 15th. We hope to highlight and engage with as many Senedd Members as possible on four key demands, outlined below.
Despite The Welsh Government’s declaration of a Climate Emergency, and legislation such as the Wellbeing of Future Generations and the Environment Wales Act, farmers and growers are not getting the incentives and support needed to turn our food system around from being a producer of emissions and pollution, to one that actively reduces emissions, increases biodiversity, and supports farmers to produce healthy food that does not cost the earth.
These are the issues that we are especially concerned about:
1. Planning law regarding agriculture does not make it possible for local councils to take climate change seriously when considering applications. A particular instance of this is the situation with the proliferation of Intensive Poultry Units (IPUs). We think planning rules need to be altered, in order to include climate change as a factor affecting decisions. We also feel the urgent need for the government to impose a moratorium on all new IPUs, in order to ascertain what effects they are having on our rivers, soil and biodiversity. We are not clear why the government has not been able to act on this so far.
2. Currently, intensively-reared chickens are fed on imported GM soya. Soya grown for export is decimating biodiversity and local communities in South America. This does not fit with Wales’s commitment to global responsibility as outlined in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. There must be alternatives.
3. Natural Resources Wales does not have sufficient funding to recruit adequate staff to effectively carry out its role of monitoring compliance with existing regulations regarding nitrates and phosphates. But the campaign about the River Wye, and water pollution in general, has highlighted the urgent need to enforce strict controls to ensure that our rivers are clean and full of life. Surely the funding can be found to enable this?
4. Currently a bill to legalise GM crops and food is making its way through Parliament. If the bill is passed, Wales will not be able to stop unlabelled GM produce coming over the border, and farmers and growers near the border will be very vulnerable to cross contamination of crops. Wales is a devolved nation; we feel that the Welsh government has the right to stand up to Westminster and refuse to allow these products into the country.
With the climate heating more and more and biodiversity continuing to crash time is running out. We cannot afford to wait for more years to pass without real change.
We are asking as many MSs as possible whether they are willing to
1. Meet us, or some of us, either outside the Senedd, or in the cafe on February 15th
2. Put questions to the government about our concerns either on or before February15th
3. Give a talk to people gathered outside on the 15th February addressing these concerns and how we can get the government to act
4. Talk to colleagues in the Senedd about how everyone can work cross-party on these issues
We invite as many supporters as possible to join us on Feb 15th between 11am and 3pm outside the Senedd to show our MSs our commitment on the 4 demands above. Please pass on this information to any friends who may be supportive.