THE REAL issue highlighted by the Countryside March is not between town and country, but between small communities and farmers, and wealthy landowners and companies.
Rural employment has plummeted. Farm work has seen a fall from 682,000 workers to 603,000 in ten years, yet CAP subsidies have risen. Where has all the money gone, when most farmers complain of poverty? The answer is, to supermarkets and multinational agricultural companies who are able to lock farmers into high purchase prices and low selling prices subsidised by the taxpayer. They guarantee this by the threat of buying inferior quality foods from other countries, often encouraging the exploitation of farmers in developing countries. Farmers are then forced to mechanise and use vast amounts of pesticides and fertilisers in order to remain competitive.
We must be prepared to alter the CAP subsidies system in order to support small, well managed farms that preserve our countryside and provide good quality food, whilst reducing subsidies for highly mechanised farming practices. Small farmers need support from the National Farmers Union to build up co-operative farming and selling and purchasing methods that take control away from the profit-orientated companies who have no interest in the state of the countryside.
Clovelly, DevonReuse content