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Latest speaking dates on the Farmageddon tour

August 27th, 2014

Philip at Kalk Bay BooksWith more than 25 speaking dates behind us, the Farmageddon tour returns to the United States. I’m excited to be travelling to Georgia where I’ll be speaking at the Decatur Book Festival, the biggest independent literary festival in the US.

After several events in and around Atlanta, I’ll be speaking in New York before moving on to a new country for the Farmageddon tour; India.

Here’s the latest speaking dates:

It’s been a real pleasure to meet so many wonderfully enthusiastic people keen to bring about a humane food revolution.

I hope to see you along the next leg of the trail.

With all best wishes

Philip

For your copy of ‘Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat’, click here.


What’s on the Horizon?

August 21st, 2014
Soya field at sunset

Soya monoculture in Argentina

I was thrilled to see the prestigious BBC programme Horizon addressing the issue of meat consumption and feeding the planet in a series of two programmes, ‘Should I Eat Meat? – The Big Health Dilemma’ on 18th August and ‘Should I Eat Meat? – How to Feed the Planet’ on 20th August.

I was interviewed in the second programme, where I emphasised that it’s madness to rear animals in factory farms where they are fed cereals and soya that could instead be feeding people directly.

I was concerned that some of the environmental issues were glossed over too rapidly. The programme presented a rather myopic view on greenhouse gases (GHG), suggesting that intensive animal farming is the most environmentally sound way forward. But whilst the GHG issue is vital, it cannot be seen in isolation.

We needed more coverage on the benefits of pasture-based free range and organic farming, where biodiversity is maintained, the soil is nourished with animal manure, the animals obtain most of their nourishment from their surrounding environment and they have the potential for a great quality of life.

With a hungry planet to feed, it is monstrous that we are currently feeding 4 billion people’s worth of cereals and soya to animals, whilst people go to bed hungry. The space to grow all this grain would cover the entire land surface of the European Union, although much of it is being grown in South America at the expense of the rainforest and savannah.

The visit to a broiler chicken farm was misleading as the chickens shown were only about three weeks old and, although they were obviously already walking in an ungainly way, with frequent rest stops, this was a week or so before the really dire lameness problems can set in over the last week or two of their short lives. That was not shown.

Thankfully the programme did finally conclude that the only long-term solution is for a large reduction in meat consumption. Eating less meat will ease pressure on the earth, is likely to bring health benefits to people and will enable widespread adoption of the very best pasture-based farming systems, which will produce enough meat to meet human demand, whilst enhancing animal wellbeing.


Farmageddon on Film: Argentina’s growing deserts of green

August 14th, 2014
Argentina’s soya desert

Argentina’s soya desert

“Some of the poorest and most disempowered people in the world are being cast aside.”

One of the most touching experiences of the Farmageddon journey was hearing the plight of indigenous people thrown off their ancestral land after it was sold off for industrial farming.

They lived deep in the forests of northeastern Argentina, an area so remote and impenetrable that early Spanish settlers called it the Impenetrable Forest. Some still survive in the shrinking wilderness. Many, like those I met on the outskirts of Rosario, have been displaced into the suburbs.

My time with the once proud people of the Toba Qom tribe was deeply troubling. They were living in extremely basic housing in an area rife with crime. We met in the community centre where ten men sat round the table in a poorly-lit room. We drank maté together, a bitter herbal tea made from the yerba plant served in a communal cup with curved nickel straw.

Talking with people of the Qom

Talking with people of the Qom

It was a difficult few hours, complicated by the fact that the Qom have their own language. Through a translator, I learned how their people have been pushed into smaller and smaller territories.

The secretary of the group told me how a multinational company had bought the land they were living on; “The provincial government sold our land, with us included in the price, because we happened to be there. We had no value of course… they fenced off the land and installed armed guards.”

The land was ploughed up to grow GM soya for export as soya meal to feed industrially reared animals in Europe and China.

See my video blog from that experience here in the latest in the Farmageddon on Film series.

For your copy of ‘Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat’, click here.


Putting Sustainable and Ethical Principles into Practice

August 7th, 2014
Patrick Holden

Patrick Holden CBE

Patrick Holden is the Founding Director of the Sustainable Food Trust. Between 1995 and 2010, he was the Director of the Soil Association and became a much sought after speaker and campaigner for organic food and farming. He spearheaded a number of prominent food campaigns around BSE, pesticide residues and GM food. More recently, he was a member of the UK Government’s working group on the Foresight report into Future of Food and Farming and is Advisor to the Prince of Wales International Sustainability Unit.

I’ve been a great fan of the organisation Compassion and all who sail with her for many years. So it was particularly inspiring for me to attend the launch of Philip’s really important book, Farmageddon.

The issues he raises of the devastating negative impact of industrial livestock farming are critically important in terms of the environment, human health and, above all, animal suffering. I’m delighted the book has been brilliantly reviewed and is increasing public awareness of the countless millions of hidden stories of suffering behind the mass produced livestock products that most people are buying every day.

Of course, these issues are particularly interesting to me. I am a dairy farmer who has been doing my best to put sustainable and ethical principles into practice on my family dairy farm in West Wales for over 40 years. Right at the start we tried to do the right thing by the land and the cows. No chemical fertilisers, pesticides or routine use of antibiotics for our native breed of Ayrshires. Each cow has a name. Over the years, we’ve been moving gradually to self-sufficiency of animal feed, with the cows grazing on a paddock system, along the principles of holistic pasture management.

One principle which is particularly dear to my heart is that the maximum number of cows in a dairy herd should be limited by their capacity to walk to their grazing area and back twice a day without undue stress. If you do the maths, this means that even in ideal conditions where the milking parlour is centrally situated, most of the grass around its circumference is available for grazing. Even with good tracks and other advantages, the assumption should be that half a mile is the absolute maximum that animals should travel each way. This would probably result in a theoretical limit of about 300 cows, which is really pushing it.

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Argentina: What price cheap feed for Europe’s factory farms?

August 5th, 2014
Filmed in the soya fields; Philip in Argentina

Filmed in the soya fields; Philip in Argentina

“Soya is a business for the few and an epidemic for the masses.”

We drove 200 kilometres through a monotonous countryside covered with the low olive hue of ripening soya. Apart from the mountains and stunning areas like Patagonia I was told this was fairly typical of Argentina today. It was very different from how I had pictured it in my mind’s eye. Like many, I suspect, Argentina evokes images of lush green pastures, grazing cattle and rich forests.

I was travelling with a camera crew and journalist, Isabel Oakeshott, then political editor at the Sunday Times. It was part of a global journey of research for Farmageddon and a mission to expose the true cost of cheap meat.

During our time in Argentina, we heard harrowing tales of children near-fatally affected by blanket spraying pesticides over crops and communities. We saw thousands of cattle confined to dusty feedlots, not a blade of grass in sight. We spoke to people who felt their lives had been broken by living beside an industry geared toward producing feed for factory farmed animals an ocean away.

Argentina is the soya meal export capital of the world, accounting for nearly half of global exports; much of it is destined for Europe and China. Used to feed factory farmed animals, its affect on distant communities and the countryside, represent yet more hidden costs of cheap meat.

This next in the Farmageddon on Film series takes us to the epicentre of this vast industry and asks, could there be a better way?

View the full film here.

For your copy of ‘Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat’, click here.


Farmageddon on film

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About Philip Lymbery

Philip Lymbery is Chief Executive Officer of Compassion in World Farming and co-author of Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat. He is an internationally respected authority on the impact of industrial agriculture on people, animals and the planet.