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Autarky in Devon

  • by JW

Is it possible for a nation like Britain to be entirely self-sufficient in food?


It depends who you speak to about the ‘sustainability’ of rearing beef in the Outback – an Australian beef lobby: Groundwater ‘superhighway’ discovered along Australia’s east coast – Beef Central

Or a group of scientists: Cattle industry’s environmental impacts spark academics’ call to eat less beef – ABC News

The UK-Australia trade deal has been questioned by one of its architects this week: Cornwall MP George Eustice admits to backing ‘not very good deal’ for UK and British farmers – Cornwall Live

And on this evening’s BBC Spotlight, West Country beef farmers expressed deep concern about their future as they looked to the consequences of the deal – which reflected concerns expressed last year: West’s suckler beef producers ‘sacrificed’ in UK-Australia trade deal, Devon farmer warns – Devon Live

Perhaps autarky is the answer.

This evening, Ben Chu, economics editor of BBC Newsnight, travels to an organic farm in Devon to see if it’s possible for a nation like Britain to be entirely self-sufficient in food: The New Age of Autarky? – Autarky in Action – BBC Sounds

Devon’s most famous farmer is very active indeed: Guy Singh-Watson: Riverford founder still digging for the future | Food & drink industry | The Guardian

And there are other self-sufficient farming projects at work in the county: Circular agriculture: The Devon farm striving for self-sufficiency – Energy Now

There are other self-sufficient projects happening.

Europe’s first self-sufficient hydrogen-powered house is in Devon – and is called Autarkic Living:

British family build Europe’s first self-sufficient hydrogen-powered home in Devon | Daily Mail Online

And there’s help from the county council: Would you like to help to increase your local community resilience and require additional funding to achieve your goals? Growing Communities Fund – Growing Community Resilience | Devon Communities Together

To finish with farming: earlier in the year, the Telegraph gave a very nuanced overview of the issues around self-sufficiency, with an excerpt here:

Sir Geoffrey Cox, the MP for Torridge and West Devon, says: “We should be looking at the dairy contracts that give arguably unfair and imbalanced advantages to processors and supermarkets” to make sure farmers are paid more, and therefore grow more. In his view, Britain is sorely in need of a coherent agricultural policy…

Yet there are those who advocate something even more drastic is needed. “The question needs to be what do we want farming to do, what crops and how much,” says City’s Prof Lang. Instead of planting animal feed wheat, he says priority needs to be given to horticulture, which would mean less British meat. “We need to be speaking to soil specialists and nutritionists who are interested in what can be grown on the land, and then revising our dietary guidelines.”

Fairytale of British self-sufficiency exposed as farmers face oblivion