Fair-trade, Organic. Here is my view. Sorry if it becomes garbled, but I'll be typing as I think !

Fair-trade, Organic. Jolly good. But not to the detriment of non-organic but just as caring British Farmers. I'll try and explain what I mean.

Speaking personally, these last few years all our tea / coffee / bananas etc. have been fair-trade. It would seem that Sainsbury and the Co-Op are now really going for it and it is going well. Delighted. Everybody seems to be happy from the producing communities to the consumer.

However, reading the recent press release from the soil assn. ( which one also supports ) has for me opened up wider issues, including the so-called sweat shops at home and abroad in the clothing industry. Shall not dwell on that one as the main concern here is Animal Welfare. So, I do applaud this initiative but with some reservations. We know that the Soil Assn. is a very successful Organic body, but why does Fair Trade have to restrict itself in the UK to Organic. Fair Trade is Fair Trade is it not ? There are other Organisations out there that care for the soil, environment, etc AND have strict rules on animal husbandry.

Like a lot of people these days, with all the food scares etc. we want to know where our food comes from and how it is produced. It has to be British and preferably local. But does not necessarily have to be Organic. Some of our meat for instance comes from a local butcher who buys from local farms with a good record of animal husbandry. Word has got around and he is doing well. If you ask him where a paticular joint is coming from, he can tell you. It does not have to be Organic. Just knowing that what I'm eating had a reasonable existance makes me happy.

There is a family farm down the road that sells its own meat and will deliver to your door. I have bombarded them with questions on animal welfare. They are ok. Their stockmen even go so far as escorting the animals on their way for slaughter to try and keep stress at a minimum. They are not Organic so presumably will not be included in this scheme. They are members of FABBL http://www.fabbl.co.uk/welcome.asp have a look. They seem to do a similar job without being Organic. Click on Beef/Lamb and on the right is downloads, hit beef and lamb inspection protocols. Very interesting and so is the site. It shows that you do not have to be Organic to rear animals in an humane way.

One last point, if I may, and please do not think that I'm against Organic, I just think that Fair Trade should also apply to proven caring farmers.

The Soil Assn. is now Worldwide. Does this mean then that fruit / veg. and now meat, so long as it has the Soil Assn. / Fairtrade logos, can now be imported from anywhere in the World ? Or will Veg. / fruit / milk and meat come soley from the UK and tea, coffee, bananas etc. ( food we cannot produce here ) come from abroad ?

The World is a big place these days, especially with the Baltic States already being given gifts of persuasion to their farming industries to help them join a wider EU. It is going to be tough for our farmers with all this added competition. I do not want to be insular and I'll try and support those people who, because of climate, produce food that we cannot. But charity begins at home. We obviously want a fair price at the farm gates and to remove as many middle-men as is possible. But it has to be at BRITISH farm gates. Another thought. Who is going to Police all this. DEFRA ?

I note also that there is no mention of UK lamb and chickens included in the press release. Does this mean that the UK will not be producing any ?