Welsh farmer leads sustainable farming march through central London
A 74-year-old Welsh farmer has led hundreds of farm workers and environmental activists on a march through central London in support of sustainable farming.
Members of the Landworkers’ Alliance and other farming groups marched from Parliament Square, up Whitehall and past Buckingham Palace on Saturday.
They were led by Gerald Miles, an organic farmer who travelled to London from his Pembrokeshire farm in a tractor that was built in 1967.
Mr Miles, who headed up the march from his tractor – which he calls Bess, said: “We need nature in farming because we’re in a climate change crisis.”
He added that it was vital for the Government to keep its Environmental Land Management subsidy schemes (ELMs), designed to replace the EU’s common agricultural policy, as they “promote nature in farming”.
The farmer, from St Davids in Pembrokeshire, spent four days travelling to the capital in his 55-year-old tractor that still has its original clutch.
Mr Miles said: “It was over 380 miles on A and B roads. It’s taken me four days because I could only do 60 to 70 miles a day – she only travels 15 miles an hour.”
Earlier this week Mr Miles said: “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 farmer, who is part of the Caerhys Organic Community Agriculture group, said he would be “cheating” on his way back to South Wales by putting the tractor, which has no roof, on a trailer.
The march was organised by The Landworkers’ Alliance – a grassroots union representing over 2,200 farmers, foresters and land-based workers in the UK – in collaboration with over a dozen other food and agriculture organisations including Save British Farming, the Sustain Alliance and the Nature-Friendly Farming Network.
The list of demands made by those marching included 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 with ELMs.
The LWA and its allies also want to see the new government protect the UK’s high growing standards in upcoming trade deals, so they are not undercut by imported food grown with lower environmental and quality standards. They fear the government’s economic growth agenda will be prioritised to the detriment of these hard-won standards,
Jyoti Fernandes, Landworkers’ Alliance policy and campaigns coordinator and one of the lead organisers of the march, said: “We need the ELM scheme, which is currently under threat by the new Government, to be fully supported – and farmers given the advice and support they need to transition to a climate-friendly farming system.”
Vicki Herd, head of farming at the Sustain Alliance, said: “We face a huge crisis with climate change and the collapse of nature and yet we continually see Government faffing around – farmers need long-term planning and security.”
The march was organised by the Landworkers’ Alliance in collaboration with more than a dozen other food and agriculture organisations including Save British Farming, the Sustain Alliance and the Nature-Friendly Farming Network.
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