Your reports in of February 9 ('Farmer pledges to never plant potatoes again' and 'Avara’s vow on pollution') clearly illustrate the position of national and local authorities in their approach to small farmers compared with vast global corporations.

In the former, a farmer in Much Birch has been formally warned about silt deposits and the impact on river pollution relating to potato and maize cultivation.

In the latter, Avara, Herefordshire’s largest employer “has pledged to make good pollution its farms have caused”. The pledge is that Avara will by 2025 have ceased contributing to excess phosphate in the river Wye catchment. There is no mention of mitigation for the incalculable harm that has already and continues to be done by Avara’s operations.

2025 is too long a time frame, and Avara with its massive financial resources should be pledging to clean up the rivers not simply offering to cease contributing pollutants. Neither should our administration be leaving this to a vague pledge; rather it should be enforced.


Avara, whose parent company Cargill has a 50% stake in the company, has known of the nutrient pollution its farms have caused to river systems for at four decades; a ruling in Oklahoma in January 2023 found against Cargill for that offence dating back to the mid 1980s.

As a huge global corporation Cargill and its subsidiary Avara have escaped scrutiny or sanction in the UK and in Herefordshire in particular (where a large part of its activities is based).

Whilst the pursuit of the small farmer for environmentally unfriendly practices is appropriate, the failure to bring corporate giants to account over two decades is reprehensible.

Dr Richard Williams


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