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Alistair McConnachie published Sovereignty from July 1999 to its 120th consecutive monthly issue in June 2009, and he continues to maintain this website.
Alistair McConnachie also publishes Prosperity - Freedom from Debt Slavery which educates about the nature of our debt-based money system and A Force For Good which advocates the maintenance of the United Kingdom.
To find out more go to the about who is Alistair McConnachie page.
You can buy the Complete 10-Year, 120 Back Issue Set of Sovereignty - worth £162.50 - for only £89 inc p+p, a 45% discount. Cheques payable to Sovereignty, at 268 Bath St, Glasgow, G2 4JR or go here and click "Buy Now". And here is a link to Alistair McConnachie's Google Profile.

Galloways at McConnachie farm
The following article by Alistair McConnachie appeared originally in the July 2002 issue of Sovereignty.

Picture: Pedigree Galloway cattle at the McConnachie organic family farm.

On 13 July 2002 I was in London for the "End Factory Farming" march organised by pressure group Viva! Around 1,200 people marched from Kennington Park to Trafalgar Square, behind the slogan, "No Excuse for Animal Abuse: End Factory Farming".

Viva! is a vegetarian and vegan advocacy group which would probably be happy if all animal farming was to end in Britain, whether "factory" style, or not. Nevertheless, the group publishes excellent reports on the animal cruelty inherent in "factory farming" -- providing that omnivores, such as your editor/publisher, are prepared to overlook their vegetarian/vegan agenda.

The "factory farming" methods they target are mainly the abuse of laying hens in battery cages, intensive chicken, turkey, and duck production, and intensive pig rearing -- although "farming" is not really the correct term for such methods.

It's likely that if these "factory farming" methods were to end tomorrow, groups like Viva! would simply target other forms of livestock farming, even the extensive (as opposed to intensive) methods. They have their own agenda, after all, and their literature suggests that the best way to end "factory farming", is to get people to stop eating animals, period!

However, the general cause of "ending factory farming" is a good cause with huge public appeal, even though most people are not persuaded by Viva's vegetarian/vegan solution.

Moreover, so long as these cruel "factory farming" methods exist, then all farmers are tainted with the stain.

And so, as I marched, leafleted and watched I wondered, where are the farmers advocacy groups - other than Sovereignty - campaigning for an end to factory farming?

Most farmers are getting a bad press because they're associated, wrongly, with wealthy grain barons. They're being portrayed, unfairly, as "subsidy junkies" and they're tainted with the above cruel industrial production methods.

They need to turn these perceptions around. To do this they need to get back to their agri-cultural roots.

The first priority is to develop and promote a food and farming philosophy for Britain which will appeal widely, and attract the support of the British public.

So do this, they need to get with it. They need to get a little bit trendy! But the irony here is that :

Galloways at McConnachie farm

In the March 2002 Sovereignty Special Report we listed the two most fundamental principles for British agriculture: Localisation and Food Sovereignty, and we suggested some policies which help to deliver these principles.

Here we highlight eight more principles, which represent fertile ground, lying fallow, just waiting for the farming community to cultivate - and some suggested policy options. But first :

1- Emphasise Vision and Policies before the Need for Money
Emphasise the direction you would like to move, and the policies necessary to get there.

Then tie this in with the need for financial support mechanisms to enable you to arrive at that destination.

Otherwise you can be portrayed as just wanting "more handouts" to keep doing "more of the same", and that means you're in danger of losing the support of the taxpayer.

2- Attract the Urban Majority - Don't Alienate Them
Do not see the urban majority as adversaries or people who need to be "made" to sympathise. You need the urban majority behind you. And they need to be involved. So, advocate policies of which they'll approve. Attract the urban majority, don't coerce them.

In this regard, the awful slogan doing the rounds, "We'll keep our cow shit in the country if you keep your bullshit in the city" strikes quite the wrong note! Instead, build alliances with rural and urban people alike, unite consumers and producers in an organic whole.

3- Direct Action must Promote a Positive Agenda
For activism to be useful and meaningful, it must be rooted in a coherent philosophy, which has a programme for purposeful change. So, if you're trying to stop something, then also promote what you believe in.

For example, the Foot and Mouth cull had to be opposed because it was symptomatic of the industrial approach to farming, and the absurdity of the globalised economic system - as well as being inhumane, unnecessary, uneconomic, illogical and unscientific.

It would have been an ideal opportunity for the NFU to illustrate these facts and to promote the positive alternatives of natural farming methods, and localised economies.

Instead they blew it. If anything gave the impression of a farming "industry" which had been severed from nature, it was the culling policy. The leadership turned it into a PR disaster for the farmers.

It was left to a small band of activists, organising predominantly on the internet, to see the facts clearly and campaign positively.

Picture: Contractors bale the organic silage at the McConnachie farm. Here, the new technology and methods are integrated with the traditional, as demonstated by the last picture on this page.

Big bale silage at the McConnachie farm

These are the two most essential principles within which all policies are to be framed, and we dealt with them in our March 2002 Sovereignty Special Report. The other eight fundamental principles for a food and farming philosophy for Britain are:

Farming is a culture, not an "industry". So, advocate organic and extensive farming methods. That's what the urban population wants to hear. They may not be prepared, or able, to pay for the products at the moment, but are more likely to be prepared to fund subsidies intended to move agriculture in this direction - thereby ensuring that "organic" moves from "niche market" to orthodoxy.

Advocating animal welfare is not the same as advocating "animal rights". "Animal rights" is a controversial theory, and lifestyle, which claims that animals have the same "rights" as humans, and therefore should not be "exploited". This leads to the comparison that livestock farming - of any kind - is equivalent to human slavery and genocide! Consequently, all "animal rightists" are vegans (not just vegetarians). Animal welfare, however, is a different concept, and here are two important and obvious animal welfare issues which the farming community needs to get behind :

= An End to Live Exports
Live exports are widely known to be cruel. Not only are the journeys torturous, but so is death, for many, at the hands of a "ritual" slaughterman - a fate for a growing number in Britain now also!

It is blatantly obvious that it is a PR disaster for farmers' leaders to support live exports! They should be openly and loudly campaigning for an end to this trade on the grounds of animal welfare. And using the opportunity to argue for new markets based on Localisation and Food Sovereignty, and for financial compensation and subsidies to enable farming to move this way.

= An End to "Factory Farming"
In this regard, the main areas for advocacy in Britain today are the ending of battery cages - including the so-called "enriched cages" scheduled to replace the smaller cages - intensive meat production of chickens, turkeys and ducks, and intensive pig farming.

Many farmers have no idea the extent to which these high-profile and degenerate forms of "farming" impact upon the public's consciousness of farming in general, and the extent to which the public, albeit wrongly, associate it with all farmers.

Right now, the only people campaigning for the worthy end of such "factory farming" are vegetarian and vegan people - such as those on the Viva! march. Consequently, there is a huge space for the majority to get behind popular campaigns against these forms of factory farming on the grounds of animal welfare, and the superiority of natural farming methods.

Farmers should be leading these campaigns, articulating the alternative direction in which they want to move, and making it clear that a successful transition from factory to farm, from agri-production to agri-culture, will require financial assistance.

That's the kind of farming subsidy which the public is likely to support! Import controls from countries with sub-standard animal welfare conditions will also be required, and if the government won't enforce controls, then direct action could be used at point of import, or sale. Again, the public will support this.

Pastoralism requires policies which ensure the wide distribution and ownership of land. For example, policies to prevent the centralisation of farms into fewer and fewer hands, to break up existing large farms, and to facilitate increased smallholding.

More smallholdings are going to be necessary, anyway, when intensive chicken and pig production has been phased out. For example, immediately after WW2, when we still had a large number of smallholders in this country, we had 100 million egg laying free-range chickens. Today we have 34 million in battery cages!

Some figures: In 1939 there were almost 500,000 farms in Britain, the majority fewer than 100 acres and together employing up to 15% of the population. Within 30 years, the number of farms had almost halved. In the last 10 years the number of farms has fallen from 233,000 to 168,000.

42,000 farmers and farm workers have left the land in the past two years. Today about 2% of the workforce is actively engaged in farming (Source: The Guardian, 28 February 2001).

British is Best

Promote British Breeds:
The ancient animal bloodlines which have been extant in these islands for centuries need to be developed and promoted again.

Indeed, as we look to the long-term future for British farming, the native breeds may be hardier, more disease resistant, and able to survive on less. In popular vernacular, the British breeds may be more sustainable, than the continental breeds.

For example, encourage Dairy Shorthorns and Ayrshires rather than Holsteins and Friesians. And just as the cruel and intensive factory production of the Large White pig will have to be phased out, so an alternative is to direct subsidies to promote traditional British breeds - such as the Berkshire, British Saddleback, Tamworth, Lincoln Curly Coat, Cumberland, Dorset Gold Tip and Gloucestershire Old Spots (most of which are presently on the endangered list) - in extensive outdoor, organic, smallholdings.

Farming in the towns and cities? Yes! Farmers can appeal to the urban communities by, for example, advocating policies which will extend allotments, community gardens, and city farms. This is all part of Food Sovereignty for the nation.

Regenerate and green the cities by encouraging the growing of food within, or on the edge of, cities. Got a windowbox? You're involved! Encourage local food supplies from this urban agriculture.

For example, outside Shanghai, some 750,000 acres of land, bordering the city, have been put into production to supply it with vegetables. Cuba is another good example of a country with an integrated urban agricultural programme.

... or "permanent culture", involves environmentally sustainable techniques such as recycling, renewable energy, low-impact and energy efficient housing and transport, alternatives to fossil fuels, composting, and small scale farm and gardening methods which have wide appeal. Those who live and work on the land are the natural defenders of the environment and advocates of such "permaculture".

On GM Crops, for example, opposition needs to be articulated from a basis of opposition to corporate control of seed and food, rather than opposition to genetic research and experimentation, per se, which is a backward and superstitious basis for opposition.

This makes good sense, providing that the national interest is not submitted to a foreign interest.

So, don't fret about the fate of peasant farmers abroad while ignoring the fact that 20,000 farmers and workers are being driven off the land every year, right here in Britain!

Co-operate internationally where possible. Try to ensure that farming policies in this country benefit the greatest international good - to the extent that it can be defined. Remember that the principles of Localisation and Food Sovereignty applied globally will benefit all.

But when it comes to the crunch, prioritise your own. Get your own field in order first, before you try to plough anybody else's!

Bob and John pull, Douglas McConnachie at
the helm

All these issues enjoy widespread support and sympathy among the public. They all pertain directly to British agriculture.

Let us, therefore, articulate a vision for British agri-culture which adopts and integrates these issues into a national food and farming programme. Let us hear farmers advocating a vision which inspires the great mass of people in Britain who live in the towns and cities, as well as those in the rural areas.

The popular support will follow. People may not want to support "greedy farmers" wanting "more taxpayers money" to "grub up more hedges", but they will support farmers when they understand what is trying to be achieved, and especially if they feel included in a programme which involves, and represents, and benefits everybody.

Let us move from agri-production to agri-culture, from intensive to extensive, from industrial to natural, from large to small, from factory to farm, from corporate to family and community.

That's the direction for British agriculture. If you can dig it, then get your boots on, and get with it!

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