Scene 7 Fence

7th of 10 Scenes showing how we can grow more sustainable food...
Fence is the name of a place, on our tour in Lancashire.

Cows to Horses

1.       Beware ! Endangered species.

Going up the hills - but before you get to the fells, you used to see cows in the fields just a few years ago. Most are now gone, many in the last 5-10yrs. Foot and Mouth hit hard, but cheap milk prices have hit even harder. When the supermarkets made arrangements with milk suppliers to keep prices up a bit to make it worthwhile to continue dairy farming, theOffice of Fair Trading fined them £50million because consumers would have to pay a bit more. Another victory for the god of free markets. When there were dairy farms, there was good pasture; that has now transformed to rush in horse paddocks.
Paddock 'poached' by ponies,  Cuckstool Lane, Fence.

This change is caused by Single Farm Payment of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which pays farmers to 'look after' land, not for what it produces. Previously CAP funds had encouraged 'overproduction' of milk and butter in the 1980s, so from 2005 all payments to produce food were abandoned in favour of 'looking after' the land. Farmers have learnt that it is easier to rear horses than bother with cows, turning pasture into a rutted landscape. And the land gentry take millions for producing grouse moors.

Some 100,000 new entrants to farming have been introduced in last few years. Anybody with more than about half an acre (third of a hectare) can apply for CAP funds. The horse in these paddocks are hardly thoroughbred - more like 'little Thellwells'. We squirm at the idea of eating horse meat, yet it would be a bit more sustainable if we did eat their meat.