A fair deal and joined up thinking : Conference bloggers : Soil Association

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A fair deal and joined up thinking

Ruth Mason - 02 March 2012

Ruth MasonThe panel session seemed to revolve around about the sustainability of supermarkets. Many questions from the floor raised concerns on weather producers can continue producing food without making profit, particularly in dairy.  

A radical statement was made from the floor – we should shut down supermarkets. I am unsure as to how beneficial this would be when 70% of organic food is sold through supermarkets.
Julian Walker-Palin answered this by saying people like the convenience supermarkets gives them. He went on to encourage producers to listen to what consumers want in terms of sustainability. Producers can only do this if they have the resources to invest in their businesses for the future.
An interesting thought came from the floor, perhaps there should be more joined up thinking between organic and conventional. This was an echo from Helen Browning’s open address this morning. There should not be a one is good and the other is bad mentality.
There are learning’s that conventional producers can take from the organic movement, particularly on the management of resources on farm e.g. producing grass effectively. It would be great to see more knowledge transfer from organic to conventional and vice versa. It would be great to get a positive attitude to British farming from both sides.
A great example was given by the panel of a farmer in Oxfordshire that has married up with a livestock farmer to get temporary grass lays into his arable system.

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