A farming revolution could help farmers, consumers and environment, says new grassroots organisation
Talamh Beo to launch with 'Soil in the City' demonstration outside Dept of Agriculture, 12:30-2:30pm, Wednesday, October 16th
A revolution in Irish agriculture could result in farmers earning a decent living, producing affordable, nutritious food for people in Ireland and also protecting the environment against the looming climate and biodiversity crises. That's according to Talamh Beo, a new grassroots farming organisation that will launch later this month.
Talamh Beo – an alliance of farmers, growers and landworkers – will hold its launch outside the Department of Agriculture in Dublin on October 16th. Members of Talamh Beo will bring buckets of valuable soil from their farms around Ireland to demonstrate their commitment to caring for the land, their communities and the environment.
The launch will coincide with an 'Open Policy Debate' on the future of Irish farming at the Aviva stadium, hosted by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, which Talamh Beo members will also attend.
The organisation says it wants to bring a new narrative to the debate about food and farming. Fergal Anderson, a Galway fruit and vegetable farmer and a founding member of Talamh Beo, said: “Farmers have become locked in a system where they are producing commodities for global markets instead of food, fuel and fibre for their communities. They have very little power in this system and have lost almost all their autonomy and links with their localities. We do not have a diverse, integrated production system in Ireland – we have a monoculture of grass, huge fertiliser and feed imports and an almost exclusive focus on the export market”.
Tipperary dairy farmer Mimi Crawford added: “We’re building a farmer-led organisation which shows the real alternatives on offer in terms of production, distribution and ecological farming and land use – where farmers earn a livelihood, people get high quality nutritious food and the ecosystems we depend on are regenerated and restored.”
The group will be bringing buckets of soil from around the country to show and share – building soil is the basis of good farming, and a priority for Talamh Beo members.
Many members are already engaged in biological farming, organics, agro-ecological production, regenerative agriculture, agroforestry, direct sales and marketing and other production systems that offer an alternative to the status quo. They want to bring those alternatives into the mainstream – and are looking for policies from government which support local food production and distribution as well as regenerative, organic and agroecological land use systems.
“We have so many solutions to offer for land use – in practice, on our farms. We need to make some of these examples the norm, and bring about a huge change in how people approach and think about land use and food production in Ireland” says Fergal Smith from Moyhill Farm in County Clare.
Talamh Beo wants people to think about the big picture, about “Food Sovereignty” – how decisions are made, where Ireland’s agricultural economy fits into global markets, how we can use the land around us to meet more of our direct needs and how we can build a more resilient, fair and long-term model for how we use the land in Ireland.
Talamh Beo has joined the international movement of peasant farmers La Via Campesina, becoming Ireland's only member through its European branch, the European Coordination Via Campesina (www.eurovia.org). This will give the group representation in consultative groups of the EU Commission and network opportunities with other European farmers groups with similar goals. Talamh Beo was partly inspired by the success of the Landworkers' Alliance in the UK.
Talamh Beo has timed its launch with the call for action from Good Food Good Farming, a European network of organisations working for a “fair, healthy and green” Common Agricultural Policy.