Soil Association predicts end to factory farming

Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett has predicted factory farming will end by 2050, as a radical and revolutionary change occurs in UK farming.

Melchett told delegates at the Langford Food Industry Conference near Bristol that major changes will take place in the way food is produced, to combat challenges faced from both climate change and high obesity levels. He said: “I think we can, and should, achieve healthy diets and an environmentally-friendly farming system by 2050. I think diets, much more than they are now, should be mainly seasonal, local, organic, with more fruit and vegetables and less but better quality dairy and meat.”

The director of the organic certification charity also called for there to be proportionately more grass-reared beef and lamb in people’s diets, which will give UK farmers a securer future, and criticised the current system producing the majority of the world’s food.

“In discussing what the challenges are, as I’ve been asked to, it’s important be clear on the assumptions. This debate about the future of food and farming is bedevilled by people making sweeping statements – and I’m sure I’m as guilty of that as anyone else – without being clear about the underlying assumptions. So we are going to have to double food production.

The underlying assumption, if you look at the science that statement is based on, is that we’ll have a billion extra cattle in the world – completely unsustainable both in terms of feed and certainly in greenhouse emissions.”

Melchett also described diet as the elephant in the room and said that diet ill-related health will have just the same impact, if not more, on the food and farming industry as climate change.

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