British standards body urges farmers to use home-grown feed

Publish time: 25th October, 2010      Source:
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October 25, 2010



British standards body urges farmers to use home-grown feed


The Soil Association, Britain''s organic charity and standards organisation, wants the UK to move away from fodder made up from grains and imported proteins in favour of sustainable alternatives such as grass and home-grown feed.



The charity''s report, Feeding The Animals That Feed Us, says that less grass and waste food is being used to feed livestock. It said that more intensive farming had resulted in greater use of imported grains such as soya, leading to the "vulnerability and the unsustainability" of the food chain.



This in turn is leading to the destruction of the rainforests and grasslands as more acres are turned over to growing crops for fodder, the Soil Association claimed.



Soil Association policy director, Peter Melchett, said, "A trend towards intensive factory farming systems over the past 60 years has meant that cows, chickens and pigs are now eating less grass and food waste and more grains and imported proteins like soya. This dependence on grain and soya imported from across the globe makes our food systems much less resilient and adds to the vulnerability and unsustainability of our food chain. With climate scientists, public health professionals and environmentalists all saying we need to eat less meat and dairy products on both health and climate-change grounds, we also need to examine how the meat we eat can be produced more sustainably. Not all meat production systems have an equal impact, therefore the sustainability of our future food systems will depend not just on how much meat we eat, but also what we feed our animals."



Livestock and dairy farms can play an important role in tackling climate change because they recycle food waste, provide nutrients to help crops grow and grassland soils can be used to store carbon.



The Soil Association also claimed that organic farmers had a head start because they used more grass and silage to feed their stock and did not use soya grown on recently converted forests or grassland.



Organic dairy farmer Ed Goff, who is one of the case studies in the report, said: "I think organic standards should require that 90% of animal feed come off a farm''s own holding - it makes sense in terms of feed security and biodiversity. There''s no difficulty for the vast majority in growing their own cereals."



Shropshire-based Mr Goff produces 98% of the food used to feed his cows on his own farm.