Protecting Hay Meadow

 In Environment, Health

I am fresh from a visit to a local farm that manages some of the finest hay meadow in Britain. Consequently, the farm has a long history of small scale farming and rearing cattle on native hay meadow. The woman who met us and took us through the farm history had skill and knowledge you could not buy, it came from the unpolluted past. That was when insects abounded, and birds, and water was not polluted by fertilisers made from oil. Their fertiliser was cow dung. Small tractors and farm machinery did not crush the soil. The land, often with bedrock, was unsuited to ploughing and growing crops. The farm had followed a cattle culture that could easily have stretched back 6,000 years. This woman was protecting hay meadow in contrast to the culture dominated by intensive farming.

Rain forest

The hay meadow is essentially Britains rain forest. Firstly, this reflects the fact that we don’t have the heat for true rain forest. Secondly, although we have low temperatures we do not have extreme winter cold. Thirdly, we have lots of rain and can consider ourselves the centre of the world – for grass! This makes us the best suited to produce meat, which I outline elsewhere. However, if that suggests that farmers growing hay meadow are doing well, then think again. This kind of farming brings in little money and I feel sorry for the people, all rural, who survive on the margins.

Protecting hay meadow

Meat and dairy are struggling in the UK. Meat eaters, like me, have to be apologists. The moral high ground is occupied by vegans and vegetarians. However, they bring in foreign foods and do not support our home grown farmers. The hay meadow produces the worlds best beef, does not pollute watercourses and creates a mass of native insects. They support rare birds. That approach is the way forward in cleaning up our rivers. Consequently, we would need to pay more for meat and move away from intensive beef rearing. However, that is our past, the 6,000 years of rearing beef and dairy. Come on, les rosbifs!

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