Four Oxfordshire Green Party candidates joined with the Campaign for Real Farming's Colin Tudge to discuss Food and Farming at a public meeting held at the Friends Meeting House on St Giles in Oxford on 20th March.
Some comments from each of the speakers:
Ian Middleton, Green Party candidate for Banbury, noted "Land management, food poverty and diet have been overlooked for too long." He noted that foodbanks in Britain are now feeding one million people each week.
Colin Tudge (Campaign for Real Farming), argued that farming as properly defined would be good agriculture without wrecking everything else. He stressed that 80% of what we pay in supermarkets is going back to the supply chain the retailer and distribution costs rather than producers. He noted that global food wastage is about 50% of production and that we are producing enough food to feed 14 billion people in the world rather than the current population of 7 billion.
Mark Stephenson, Green Party candidate for Henley, runs a horticulture business. He gave details of the difficulty in obtaining access to land for agriculture since landowners may not choose to publicise that they have land available in small plots which cannot take large-scale agricultural machinery. Like his own business, he stressed that producers can cut out the supermarkets and offer organic produce direct to customers at prices equal to those of supermarkets. More frequent farmers' markets would help producers and encourage shoppers.
Kate Prendergast, Green Party candidate for Wantage, focussed upon the serious impacts of flooding which have implications for land use of all kinds. Climate change data being collected each year is often showing weather worse than predicted. Part of the solution is re-afforestation combined with sustainable drainage systems.
Larry Sanders, Green Party candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, observed that "Hunger has returned to British politics." He added that benefit sanctions for minor transgressions contribute to pushing people into starvation. Despite the difficulties of the poorest, no official monitoring of food poverty is taking place.
See the highlights of the debate in this video.