Herefordshire Food Charter. Healthy food for people, place and planet

2024 manifesto for wyeHerefordshire Food Alliance is supporting the Manifesto for the Wye:

"We call on the Governments of the UK and Wales to establish a single, cross-border approach to tackling the pollution crisis across the Wye catchment."

The River Wye is dying, being destroyed by pollution resulting from the intensification of agriculture and release of sewage. Increasingly desperate calls have been made for meaningful action to be taken: in 2022 by Herefordshire Council, then 2023 at a roundtable convened by the Wildlife Trusts, and in 2024 in court by River Action. It has not happened.Therefore:

We call on the Governments of the UK and Wales to establish a single, cross-border approach to tackling the pollution crisis across the Wye catchment.

This must:

1. Develop and implement a Water Protection Zone to stop all forms of pollution.

We need a new approach to protecting the river from agricultural and sewage waste. The current system has manifestly failed. The science tells us that the Wye needs to be put into “special measures” to solve current and legacy pollution issues. This includes a reduction in animal numbers, responsible sourcing of feed, the reduction of sewage releases and reduced application of fertiliser and chemicals. A Water Protection Zone is the right mechanism to deliver this at pace.

2. Establish a Wye Recovery Fund to resource a fair and fast transition to river-friendly farming and nature-based solutions.

To rescue the river will take concerted efforts to move to less intensive and more nature-positive farming. This means no more intensive livestock units, a transition to lower stocking levels, protection of the riparian zone and the reduction of imports of feed, fertilisers and pesticides. English and Welsh farmers will need the backing of significant funding to make this happen.

3. Strengthen regulations and resource the agencies to enforce against pollution.

We need better regulations and significant extra investment in enforcement to bring the standards up to a common level that will protect the river and establish a level playing field for all farmers. These actions need to be backed by proper data collection to ensure pollution is under control. Regulators on both sides of the border need to have appropriate powers to ensure infractions are quickly resolved, including on the spot fines for pollution.

4. Ensure supermarket pricing rewards river-friendly farming and that consumers are empowered with honest labelling.

Farmers are businesses and need to sell their produce at a price that reflects the care and attention paid to the river and does not allow them to be undercut by environmentally damaging competitors. This needs supermarkets to become part of the solution and reward suppliers for practices that protect the environment and the river. Clear, mandatory method-of-production labelling must be displayed on both domestic and imported goods, to allow consumers to choose river-friendly food.

Who we Are

The Herefordshire Food Charter is an initiative of the Herefordshire Food Alliance, a network of individuals and organisations from across the county involved in local, community and sustainable food action.

The Alliance is a member of the national Sustainable Food Places network and is co-ordinated by New Leaf Sustainable Development with support from Herefordshire Council and Sustainable Food Places.

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