Category: Food & Farming

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Insecure Brexiters: George Eustice

Peter Roberts

George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne, Redruth & Hayle, and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The professional Cornishman stood for that famously green political party UKIP in the 1999 EU Parliament elections. He lost. He doesn’t promote his former affiliation on his website, of course, but if I were George Eustice […]

Methane: a threat and an opportunity.

Mick Carter

There have been a lot of letters in the Western Morning News about methane emissions from cattle sparked by a columnist claiming that there was a “spurious and completely unfounded presumption that methane from cows is a problem.” The columnist is a Dartmoor farmer and his response was, in my view, misleading. Methane is a […]

Somerset Levels and Moors – rhetoric vs reality in the nature emergency

Tony Whitehead
Somerset Levels

If you live on the Somerset Levels and Moors, ask simply “will what I am hearing improve water quality here?”. Because unless national policy makes a real difference where you are, it is largely useless. We are in a nature and climate emergency. We need the government to show leadership and ambition that delivers action because they fully understand what this means.

WCB event: the true cost of cheap food

Editor-in-chief
Pizza factory

The UK today: record foodbank use, hungry children, an obesity crisis and post-Brexit trade deals which threaten to decimate British farming and flood the market with food produced to lower standards, and the politicians chant the ‘cheap food’ mantra. The costs of cheap food are high – for humans, animals and the planet. What can […]

British farming: the end of the Brexit illusion

Nick Tolhurst

We still do not know the final details of the Australia trade deal signed off by cabinet last week – but what we do know is the ‘shape of the deal’. Australia is to obtain tariff and quota free access to the UK market in agricultural goods – with domestic farmers protected by having this […]

“DEFRA says get over it”: Brexit threatens to wreck Devon mussel business and DEFRA don’t much care

Julian Andrews

“DEFRA says get over it”, according to Nicki Holmyard, talking to West Country Bylines, and describing the response from the department for environment, food and rural affairs since live shellfish exports to the EU collapsed in January 2021. Nicki is Communications Director of the Brixham-based aquaculture firm Offshore Shellfish Ltd, which – in common with […]

100 days of Brexit: the impact on animals

Anthea Simmons

We are such a nation of animal lovers that we barely stopped to consider the ramifications of Brexit on pets, equestrian sports, showing and breeding, and swallowed all the reassurances about food and animal welfare standards with barely a murmur. Not many of us stopped to consider the impact of a US trade deal on […]

This Good Earth – recording of WCB event now available

Editor-in-chief

For those who missed the West Country Bylines event on 11 Feb 2021, the director Robert Golden has produced an audio record of the proceedings. As it was a recording of a zoom event, the sound can be erratic so please make allowances. The event was a special Q&A session following the release of Robert […]

Dartmoor’s wounded land – part 3: what can be done?

Tony Whitehead

In the first two parts of this series I looked at the parlous state of the Dartmoor Special Area of Conservation. I gave reasons for how it came to be in such a poor state, and covered the influence of post war agricultural policy. In this final part, I will look at what can be […]

On feast and famine

Anthea Bareham

Throughout my childhood we had a feast almost every day – not just on special occasions – every day. I expect you did too. We ate meat. Almost every day. Last week I attended a Guardian online webinar, one of Fairtrade Fortnight’s events. The topic was ‘The impact of the climate crisis on global food […]

50 days on: Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal

Sadie Parker

Saturday 20 February was the 50th day since Boris Johnson’s Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into effect. Anyone expecting it to settle all questions, or even most of the details, of how we will do business with the EU from now on will be mightily disappointed. The proverbial expression of something being ‘as full […]

Iconic Somerset cider business hit by Johnson’s trade deal

Richard Wilkins

The first thing people ask when they find out you are from Somerset is “how much cider do you drink?”  The apple-based drink is synonymous with our county. It has imprinted itself on our culture, forming much of our history and traditions. For instance, wassailing is an ancient West Country cider festival which ensures a […]

WCB online event: This Good Earth Q&A, 11 Feb, 8pm

Anthea Simmons

West Country Bylines is delighted to invite you to a special Q&A event following the release of Robert Golden’s powerful and elegiac film – This Good Earth. The film’s director, Robert Golden will be joined by Professor Timothy Lang, Professor of Food Policy, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London and Simon Holland, farmer […]

Is the penny dropping that Brexit means Brexit?

Anthea Simmons

Aww! Bless June Mummery for spotting that leaving the EU meant no more attendance of the meetings, but really! Poor LibDem Caroline Voaden, who like the other non Brexit-cultist MEPs, including Conservative Dr Charles Tannock, Labour’s Clare Moody and the Green’s Molly Scott Cato, tried frantically to explain what Brexit would do to fishing. We […]

Fishermen! Your government is insulting you!

Anthea Simmons

You might want to watch this. This is the contempt in which this government holds you. The very same contempt it shows the hauliers, the NHS, the small businesses, the entrepreneurs who have been excluded, the exporters, the farmers…you name it. Watch this and see how you are treated. Is a one word answer to […]

“It’s not MY fault”: the fishy blame game

Julian Andrews

The “whiffy-fish-to-the-EU” disaster story just goes on and on, doesn’t it? Or maybe that should read “no-fish-to-the-EU”. Most people must know now that those involved in fishing are angry – very angry – that their valuable seafood is not getting to customers in the EU on time, if at all. Many boats are laid up, […]

Bugs, bees and banned toxins

Milly James

There seems to be quite an upset brewing, understandably, over the government allowing the use of neonicotinoids in the UK after reports like “Government to let farmers use bee-killing pesticide banned by EU”  appeared in the press and across social media from environmentalists and the concerned public. The current reporting on the renewed use of […]

Fish – it used to be so easy…

Julian Andrews

Mention “Samways” to locals around the west Dorset town of Bridport and they’re most likely to tell you simply, “they’ve got that fish shop at West Bay”. They’re right about the fish shop, but Samways are a lot more than that. Clifford Samways started selling fish from a wooden barrow in West Bay in 1961 […]

This sting cannot be sugar-coated

Anna Andrews

Bees are good.  We all know that, don’t we.  Bees are good.  Pests are bad.  Farmers need to kill pests so they can grow our food and they use pesticides to do that.  So why would they want to use pesticides which kill bees? Many chemicals which kill pests also kill bees and other insects […]

Roast autarky and British sprouts

Rachel Marshall

As Covid choked the passageways between the UK and France at the end of December, there were increasing calls from farmers and politicians to “Buy British.” This is irritating because many of us do just that already; filling our fridges and store cupboards has for many years not been an either/or choice. But is this […]

Awards part two: some more good people, thankfully!

Anthea Simmons

Most dogged defenders of our food & farming standards: Devon MPs Ben Bradshaw, Luke Pollard and Dorset MP Simon Hoare stand amongst those who braved the government to demand standards be enshrined in law and not on the table in any future trade deals. (Devon MP Neil Parish almost made it into this select group, […]

In a stew over fish…

Mike Zollo

From fish’n’chips to calamares In my childhood days, my experience of fish was usually limited to a somewhat greasy lump of batter, with a trace of white matter within it, presumably cod, accompanied by equally greasy, soggy chips. They were served in newspaper, liberally sprinkled with salt and vinegar. Perhaps my palate-memory is rather jaded […]

Environment Box Set

Editor-in-chief
path through broad-leaved woodland

In case you missed them or ar e hungry for a binge read, here is a selection of articles on environmental issues from our first five months: You can read Part 2 of Tony’s series on Dartmoor here. Part 3 will be published in January.