Diversity is key to saving Herefordshire’s farms and river system

Herefordshire needs to think strategically about its direction in food production if the county is to build resilience to local and global challenges, says the Green Party of Herefordshire.

“Diversity is the key to healthy systems,” said agronomist and colleague Natalie Bennett, late last month in Kington, as the Herefordshire Greens celebrated their 40th anniversary with a discussion on agriculture and agriculture. state of county rivers.

Calling for smaller and more varied cultures, Baroness Bennett said: ‘Over 50% of human calories come from just four cultures, which is bad for public health and bad for food security.’

“What we see with our food systems is not what farmers want, it’s what they’ve been pushed into. We need a policy framework and incentives to make this work. We need to have a system that protects the environment, gives people food and gives farmers an income. We know how to do this.

Ellie Chowns, Green Party adviser to Herefordshire’s economy and environment portfolio, said: ‘Chemicals and fuel are very expensive. What we do in Herefordshire is try to make the economy and the environment work together. We have examples of a fabulous generation of farmers in Herefordshire, like Regen Ben from Ross-on-Wye and Richard Thomas who farm at Risbury Court, who are turning to regenerative farming to get off the treadmill of debt and create food systems where people and the planet can thrive together.

Farmers like Regen Ben are using medicinal plants to produce nutrient-dense, high-wellness foods while improving the environment.

Coun Chowns said: “Cheap food is costing us the land and our health, but we also need to make sure food producers have an income. We need regulation that makes things clear for everyone, and that works well. We need to create a level playing field – this requires systemic change. We need to build a vision of how agriculture and our food economy can be different.

Planning consultant Helen Hamilton has fought on behalf of many communities to ensure that all the consequences of intensive farming, especially poultry, are taken into account. She said one of the ‘unintended consequences’ of developing anaerobic digesters alongside poultry units for the 20 million chickens in England’s Wye catchment was the 289 per cent increase in maize production in Herefordshire between 2016 and 2020 to facilitate manure management. Environment Agency records for the period also show a 32% decrease in permanent grassland and a 10% decrease in tree, shrub and hedgerow cover over the four-year period.

“Thanks to the subsidies, this policy has resulted in huge loss of biodiversity and increased flood risk to meet the needs of a single industry, and undoubtedly contributes to the ecological failure of the Wye,” said Ms. Hamilton.

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