Farmers, food producers and land workers from across the UK will march through London this weekend with a list of demands to support sustainable food and farming.
The Good Food, Good Farming March will leave Parliament Square in London at 12 noon on Saturday (15 October) in a family-friendly atmosphere of banners, tractors, songs and a harvest festival display. UK-grown food will be on offer and speeches will end at 5pm.
Part of a European-wide day of action to coincide with World Food Day on October 16, the list of demands by organisers The Landworkers’ Alliance (LWA) include: a right to food to be put into UK law; more government support schemes for young people and marginalised groups to enter farming; and a bigger budget for agricultural support schemes.
The LWA, and supporters including campaign group Sustain and the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) also wants to see the new government protect the UK’s food standards in upcoming trade deals, so they are not undercut by imported food produced under lower animal welfare and high pesticides to meet the government’s new priorities on growth.
They are also calling on Defra to commit to a speedier delivery and a bigger budget for England’s Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMS). This new policy, still in development, was a replacement to payments to farmers following Brexit, and promised great environmental protections – but is under review by the new government.
March organiser and policy coordinator at the LWA, Jyoti Fernandes, said: “The governments in the UK aren’t doing enough to implement the kind of transition we urgently need in our food and farming systems. We need change, and we need it now.
“That’s why we’re bringing consumers, farmers, growers, youth, activists, change-makers and food system workers together to march in London and demand that policymakers take action.”
Farmers and landworkers will travel from across the UK to join the march, including organic farmer Gerald Miles, of the Caerhys Organic Community Agriculture (COCA) group in Pembrokeshire, Wales, who set off from his farm in a tractor on Monday to raise awareness of the protest en route.
“I am making my way to London which will take me four days. I want to make the biggest protest possible to keep the government’s environmental land management schemes (ELMS), save nature, stop the deregulation of genetically modified crops and support young farmers and young people trying to go back to the land.”
“I am passionate about creating a farming and food system that is good for people and the planet and have dedicated my life to growing local, healthy food and campaigning for the government to support small-scale, agroecological farms and make it easier for new entrants to begin their careers.”
The march is supported by many in the agroecological and organic sector including Guy Singh-Watson, the founder of organic veg box company Riverford, who said: “We have already waited too long for a coherent food and farming policy post Brexit. Dogmatic reverence for market forces will never deliver the considered, well implemented solution that embraces the complex regionally specific needs of people, health and the environment; we need brave, considered and intelligent leadership in contrast to the abject abdication of responsibility we have seen from this government.”
The march is part of a European-wide Good Food, Good Farming Day of Action to coincide with World Food Day on October 16.