Friends of the Earth Bill calls for 50% soya import cut

A Private Members' Bill put forward by MP Rob Flello is suggesting cuts for imports of livestock feed by a half, with British farmers growing alternatives.

The 'Sustainable Livestock Bill', taken up by Flello after work by Friends of the Earth, suggests producing linseed, beans and other crops to cut down on importing soya from South America, which is leading to the destruction of parts of the Amazon rainforest.

A second reading of the Bill will take place on 12 November and Friends of the Earth has also gained the support of Feltham and Heston MP Alan Keen.

A report has been produced by Friends of the Earth, called 'Pastures New', which summarises research by the Royal Agricultural College, suggesting ways to cut soya imports by half.

The report concludes that a 50% reduction is possible using legume crops and oilseed rape in particular to replace soya, but only while the subsidy paid to growers of protein crops stays in place – it is due to end in 2012.

According to principal lecturer Dr Richard Baines, who has led the research at the Royal Agricultural College: "It would still be possible to produce replacement feed in the UK, but only by those farmers in parts of the south and south east".

Flello said: "The current situation is unfair to British farmers, to farmers in Latin America and to the environment," said Flello. "The whole funding system is geared up to make farmers buy soya from overseas, which leaves them at the mercy of currency fluctuations.

"The whole system is layer upon layer of madness, so why are we, as taxpayers, subsidising this madness?" asked Flello. "This is a chance for us to do something about it."

The first reading of the the Sustainable Livestock Bill took place on 30 June.

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