Friends of the Earth has attacked the Common Agricultural Policy which it said encouraged intensive farming and threatened the environment.
The attack was contained in a FoE report – Feeding the Beast, which forms part of its Food Chain Campaign aimed at reversing the long-term decline in small farms and the loss of 4000 jobs from farming every year.
The report suggested that the CAP cost the taxpayer £700m but fuelled demand for cheaper imported animal feed from South American plantations created by clearing rainforests.
“If current trends continue, soya farmers and cattle ranchers alone will destroy 40% of the Amazon rainforest by 2040,” it said.
It also blamed “unchecked and unregulated” supermarkets for “abusing their buying power and forcing farmers into evermore intensive farming methods by constantly driving down prices”.
Friends of the Earth’s executive director Andy Atkins said that ministers should tackle the role of corporations – particularly supermarkets – in driving farmers into intensive farming through persistently low prices.
“The government must stop bucking around with taxpayers’ money and use our money to support planet-friendly farming for good meat and dairy for families in Britain.”
He also called for funding to help develop a home-grown, high-protein feed to replace imports.