|GRASS ROOT POLICIES for HOME GROWN PRODUCTS
By Alistair McConnachie and first published in a Sovereignty Special Report distributed free with the March 2002 issue.
Last year was a horrendous time for the rural community throughout Britain. The countryside went into "shut down" in 2001 due entirely to the Foot and Mouth slaughter policy. Those not directly hit by slaughter on their doorstep were nevertheless severely hit by movement restrictions and falling incomes.
Vaccination would have allowed the countryside to function as normal and FMD would, almost immediately, have become just like any other animal disease which the public never hears about and doesn't care about.
However, a determination among some to protect the export markets led to 11 million healthy animals slaughtered, without a single one actually dying of Foot and Mouth disease!
As we argue, the slaughter policy was symptomatic of a fundamentally unsustainable industrial-style approach to farming which is driven by the economic orthodoxy of globalisation.
LOCALISATION, NOT GLOBAL TRADE LIBERALISATION
A localised economy ensures that everything that can be produced locally and nationally is so produced, and international trade is conducted only in those products which cannot be produced at home.
Moreover, only a localised economic system can ensure that wealth remains at home and is not drained out.
Basing our economies on localisation instead of globalisation would ensure a future for our farming and rural communities. However, if we remain within the present globalised system, our entire agricultural and rural economy will be relocated to the rest of the world!
Traditionally, agriculture has provided the primary source of wealth in rural areas. As the number of farms decrease, however, so rural economies suffer. Any programme to boost rural economies, must also emphasise the importance of maintaining the local farming industry.
OUR RURAL AREAS ARE SUFFERING
Lately there have been complaints that "Urban people do not understand and are not listening to rural people".
The message which comes through is that rural people feel sidelined, ignored, mistreated, betrayed, disenfranchised and treated with a lack of understanding by urban people with "no experience" of rural issues.
Well, it is certainly true that urban people are sometimes misinformed about rural life. However, to the extent that it's true, there is not much point in dwelling on it. The aim should be to ally, not alienate, the urban majority.
Any suggestion that the urban population is in an adversarial position to the rural community simply creates an artificial divide. There isn't an "urban/rural divide" unless you make one. Moreover, in many cases, it is not true. Many in the urban population are sympathetic. Rather, it is the urban political class which can present the problem, not the urban people. It's the politicians not the population.
Nor can we forget that rural and urban people have a common enemy in the globalised economic system.
Social and economic problems which beset the countryside are due to a larger national, indeed global, problem which besets everybody.
The globalised economy is putting people out of work in the city just as it's doing in the country, and multinational corporations are buying up the town and fields alike.
MOVING FROM PROTEST TO PROPOSITION
Therefore, it is necessary to propose solutions - in the clearest, most succinct terms possible - and in a way which will appeal to the widest constituency.
LET'S CONCENTRATE UPON KEY OBJECTIVES
We need food sovereignty - that is, self-sufficiency. We need independence in food production rather than perilous dependence.
And we need an economically sustainable rural economy.
Let us hear our rural representatives advocating those three imperatives at every opportunity. Let us advocate policies which deliver those aims, and let us oppose policies which are incompatible.
Let us work together to ensure that out of the trauma of Foot and Mouth, will come a new determination to ensure that such a policy is never inflicted upon us ever again.
Let us bring our economy home. And if the government won't do it, then we'll do it right here, right now, and we'll wait for the government to catch up.