We need agricultural national trust to preserve farmland
The Somerset councillor who tries to defend the sale of county farms justifies his council's action by saying that it is important to use assets to pay for services now, and secondly, that most of the farms are being sold to their tenants. Not good enough!
Councils, like all government, have a responsibility to provide for the future well-being and socio-economic resilience of their communities. The present is always difficult, and it is always tempting to rob the future to pay for today – but it is indefensible to do so.
If demand for social and other responsive services is expanding at a faster rate than population then it is important to consider how we can manage that growing demand. Jamie Oliver, in his efforts to improve school food, shows the way. Improve the quality of nutrition, the environment and the self-awareness of individuals, and we stand some reasonable chance of balancing dependency with self-reliance – demand can be managed if we are positive. If we simply give in to the demand by selling off long-term assets to pay for it then we are cutting off society's nose to spite the future's face!
Equally, climate change is a reality – a long-term one which demands urgent action now to ensure that the opportunities to flourish are not denied to future generations as the result of short-term, self-centred thinking and action now. Such short-termism, often driven as much by the contaminant of partisan politics in local government (which tends to focus on elections to the exclusion of the public good) is neither good budget management or good policy.
Buy one get one free on main course and specials excludes fillet steaks and beef wellingtons
Must book to qualify and present voucher on arrival 01209860332
Contact: 01209 700617
Valid until: Wednesday, December 11 2013
If we do not ensure entry into farming for young people, if we do not nurture a public farming resource which can research, evolve, sustain best practise, new techniques, new thinking and young talent, then the likelihood of sustaining a society which is robust, self-reliant, innovative, content and healthy is going to lessen – drastically.
Any Council which is considering divesting itself of publicly-owned farms will be failing the society which they are charged to govern. The County Farms estates are elements of a national farms estate – a vital and irreplaceable resource which we should be expanding, not reducing.
What chance will those purchasing Somerset tenants have to resist the options, deals and loaded planning consents driven by speculative profiteering?
I think that if councils can't be trusted to be positive stewards of the public farming resource then we, as a society, should determine to place all their farming assets in the hands of an agricultural national trust, charged with guaranteeing new entries to farming, to developing best agri-environmental practise, to expanding the estate to ensure a proportionate area of farmland is in informed and politically neutral hands can be managed for the benefit of society, in all parts of the UK.