Friday, 25 March 2011

Mr Paice must halt the loss of fine Fen farmland

I sent the following letter to the Cambridge News on the 16th of March. It has been published today, unfortunately in edited form*:

Dear Editor,

Like Dr. Peter Jackson (Letters, 15th March), I have communicated my views to Mr James Paice, M.P., the minister for agriculture, on the increasing amount and number of so-called 'wetlands' being created to the dis-benefit of arable farming and our own home food production.

Mr Paice has a lifetime's experience of farming and farming-related business, more than twenty years of representing Cambridgeshire constituencies and, I hope, sufficient sense to realise that taking our very best and most productive Fen farmland out of arable production is both daft and selfish.

It is daft because we have a population of nearly sixty-two millions (and those are the ones willing to be counted: how many will conveniently 'lose' the new census form?) and we haven't a hope in hell of feeding them without massive food imports which may not always be available. We should not give up food production when we ought to be increasing it.

And we are selfish because we expect all sorts of food - as well as those lovely filling station flowers - to be available all-year-round. Much comes from Africa, and by air. Many African countries cannot feed their own peoples. While Africans starve, we demand our mange tout. Do we have no shame?

The time will come - and soon - when we are in a worse position as regards feeding ourselves and our growing population, when we will not be able to afford such huge air-freighted food imports and when we realise that what may be 'sustainable' in this country is unsustainable overseas.

The ball is in Mr Paice's court. He must halt the loss of fine Fen farmland. We've had enough of 'wetlands' waste.

Yours sincerely,

Geoffrey Woollard.

Here is my picture of the National Trust's 'Wicken Vision' wetland waste.

*The equally splendid Ely Standard published another version of my letter in full. Thanks, Debbie!

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