DIG FOR SURVIVAL? 01

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Stanley
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DIG FOR SURVIVAL? 01

Post by Stanley » 05 Oct 2018, 06:50

DIG FOR SURVIVAL? 01

Any of you old enough to remember WW2 and rationing will remember the campaign, 'Dig For Victory'. At that time our trade routes, which brought much of our food from abroad, were under attack from submarine warfare and the then Ministry of Food took over agricultural production and by means of the local War Agricultural Committees dictated to farmers how they must farm and what they should produce. This included mechanisation, most field operations were still reliant on horse power but the government adopted the Standard Fordson tractor and encouraged the Ford Motor Company of Britain to expand the production of this tractor which they had been making since 1929. This and expanding the existing farm machinery industry transformed the landscape in Craven. Pastures that hadn't seen the plough since medieval times were cultivated and grew arable crops. The consequence was that food production was increased to the point where we never starved despite the drop in food imports.
Another part of Dig For Victory was to exhort the general public to take to the land and dig up every available bit of ground for food production. I know that as a result of this the field at Letcliffe Park where the toilets are was used as allotments and others that I don't know of were treated like that as well. Regulations prohibiting keeping animals at home were lifted and it was a common sight to see hens and sometimes even a pig being fed on scraps in people's gardens. Gardeners grew vegetables instead of flowers and not only the quantity but the quality of food improved.
However, even after all this effort we were still importing half of the food we needed and even though the war ended, we were so economically stretched that we couldn't afford to buy enough food to end rationing. The government's response was to initiate what they called the Green Revolution, they subsidised farmers to move from old methods into high-input farming to increase the quantity, if not the quality of our essential foods. Food imports dropped to 35% in 1981, despite a population rise of 11 million and the end of rationing. Taking all in all, a big success story and leaving aside the ecological costs, a testament to what is possible if proper resources and planning are put in.
Let's move on and have a look at where we are now. After this success, as the pressure on food supplies eased, government took its eye off the ball and left things to 'The Market'. The consequence is that we now import about 65% of our food and farming has been neglected to the point where much of it is uneconomical, ask any former dairy farmer round Barlick what happened to milk production or go further afield and look at the dire state of hill-farming. Does this matter? After all there is no shortage of food in the supermarkets. I think it does and next week I'll try to explain why.

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One of many posters for the campaign in the war years.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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