In search of an agriculture policy

This week the government produced an “Agriculture Bill”. That is welcome, as farmers need to know what rules will apply and subsidies will be paid after March 29 next year if we just leave the EU then.
On reading the Bill, it emerges that it is not such much an agriculture bill as a Land management and environment bill. It seems to assume a 21 month delay in exiting the EU, which may or may not happen. Great emphasis is placed on the state paying taxpayers money for public goods which include public access, upholding heritage , protecting or improving the environment and action which “mitigates climate change”. There is an added provision which is welcome which says “The Secretary of State may also give assistance for and in connection with the purpose of starting, or improving the agricultural productivity” of a farm.

An Agriculture Bill, and the agriculture policy, should primarily be about food production. That after all is the main purpose of farms and market gardens. There is a huge opportunity awaiting us as we leave the EU. Our market share for home produced temperate foodstuffs has slumped from over 90% to under 70% during our time under the CAP. A well designed domestic policy could reverse that. There is no good reason why Holland outcompetes us in a wide range of temperate vegetables and flowers, nor why we should be so dependent on Danish bacon, French dairy products and Irish beef. These are all things we can do more of ourselves. It would be a good environment policy to cut the food miles and satisfy more demand with local produce. It would also ensure good landscape gardening by farmers. Many of us find well tilled wheatfields or lush grazing meadows with herds of cows a great landscape where the farmer provides a good view free to the onlooker whilst also producing the food we need to eat.

I have made representations that more needs to be built into the policy to promote UK home grown food. Mr Gove needs to liaise with Dr Fox at Trade to ensure we have early sight of a good new tariff schedule for an independent UK. Products from farms and fishing vessels are the main items that attract high EU tariffs against the rest of the world. The UK needs to optimise its tariff schedule to provide lower tariffs on some world foods to help the consumer, whilst imposing sensible tariffs against continental competition for the temperate foods we could produce in bigger quantities for ourselves.

The second thing Mr Gove needs to do is to set out in more detail what grants and subsidies will be available for UK farmers wishing to improve and expand in UK food production to assist them with a substantial uplift in capacity that we need as we leave the EU. I was delighted to see recently Chapel Down Vineyard announce its search for an additional 400 acres for new vines, such is the demand for its product. Wine growing adds a lot of value to the basic grapes, and offers scope for much greater import substitution. It will also save a good few drink miles on the transport system, as lugging cases of wine in glass bottles around is costly and generates a lot of exhaust gases. There are many other specialist agricultural areas where we can expand production and add value.

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78 Comments

  1. Ian wragg
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    They are assuming we sign up to the non regression clause whereby we don’t compete. Remember politicians want Brexit to be a disaster.

    • Ian wragg
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      It’s testament to the influence of Brussels when the new agricultural policy mirrors EU policy.
      Politicians have become very lazy and are only too eager to have foreigners legislating for us.
      I bet in the Withdrawal Agreement we are supposed to adhere to EU quotas hence the lack of subsidies for increased production.

  2. Nig l
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    This is a government and Civil Service that wants to stay close to the EU and Mr Gove is famous for his number one preoccupation, promoting Mr Gove.

    There is therefore no chance that a policy would emerge that, by its content, clearly highlights the opportunities outside that organisation.

  3. Twitcher
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    BBC. Centre of Gravity but not as we know it

    “Sir Vince Cable has urged opponents of Brexit in other parties to join the Lib Dems to create a “more powerful force” in the centre ground of politics. ” Power to his elbow if he feels up to it

    • Peter Wood
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Sir Vince Cable’s followers consist of his own shadow and his reluctant dog…

  4. Prigger
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    ” It would also ensure good landscape gardening by farmers”

    I found the fields of yellow rapeseed flowers beautiful, they added a bright and clean feel to shades of green.

    When I spoke to people about it, though not many, as such does not crop up much, they hated it. They did not tell me why. But they did say hate not just dislike

    As more and more fields became bright yellow, I too hated it. I don’t have the artist about me though I guess really bright flowers in excess are as welcome as the milder dandelion in same yellow-out of my eyes.

    Much later, as if Flowers can make you anti-EU, they started saying “it was better before” which got an immediate “Yes” from others present (btw I walk an alsation). Then, still in a heavy Industrial area as opposed to agricultural…over time, more additions to “Hate” with Becauses” as if justifying some position or other. “Potato fields looked better “, ” You had them full of peas once” “And cabbages” “There were all kinds of stuff”
    Then, its “the EU , all they want is rape-oil,Huff!!

    So, concentrated in less than three years I heard more criticisms of things growing in fields than for 50 years in total previously. In fact I only remember one comment in that time, and it was a family walk “You can make chewing gum just by chewing barley grains”
    Don’t ask me at what stage of development 🙂 . I had real chewing gum. They hadn’t, my parents years ago..and didn’t like my chewing gum at all and chewed some barley right then to show me.
    Well, Remoaners said people didn’t vote Brexit for just one reason. Remoaners get rattled. Head bangers even when perhaps right.

  5. Adam
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Producing food in our home country is more sensible & better for our landscape & quality of life. In recent years we have been importing ever more people to concrete over our green & pleasant land, occupy more living accommodation & import even more food to feed them.

    • margaret howard
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Less than 10% of our land is concreted over – some say it may be as little as 3%.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted September 15, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Go down to Sussex Margaret and you will find your figures bear no meaning. Farm land is disappearing at an alarming rate and also old woodlands. Where we used to live in Sussex bears no resemblance to what it was a few years ago. You need to get out more.

      • Dave Andrews
        Posted September 15, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        As only 25% of UK land is suitable for crops, that 10% represents 40% of good farmland.
        Why is it that new housing developments always seem to displace agricultural land and never useless land?

        • Dominic Johnson
          Posted September 15, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

          “Why is it that new housing developments always seem to displace agricultural land and never useless land?”
          Agricultural land is already near to existing road, water, gas, electric and comms networks
          Sussex also has a vibrant economy that wants, needs and can support new residents.
          You could build houses on the heather moors of West Yorkshire, but it’s building a city from scratch.

          • Fedupsoutherner
            Posted September 15, 2018 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

            There so not much support for old residents let alone new ones. Hospital beds have been cut, schools are overcrowded and roads haven’t been updated or bypasses built. Travel is a nightmare and a friend of ours has had to wait nearly a year to see a specialist after having a spinal stroke. Sussex is overcrowded.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Indeed.

    It seems the anti-scientific, green crap loons have completely taken over the asylum in this area too.

    We should be aiming to get subsidies out of farming as far as is possible and allow farmers do the things that are economically sensible without any government subsidy. This depending on the individul circumstances of their region and land.

    Question Time as usual was hugely pro remain. Julia Hartley-Brewer the only voice of reason but out numbered 5:1. Any Questions likewise, do the BBC not have a duty of balance and why is nothing being done about it?

    I assume becasue this bias suits the appalling Appeaser May.

    • stred
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      I watched BBC on Thursday, just to see how biased and PC it has become. Early, there was another all -woman sleb show with them talking about their programmes. I woke up in time for Question Time, which I had given up watching as it is too annoying. Then Rory Stewart appeared and I had thought of him as a comparatively rare honest politician. But he too backed May and Robbins sell out and told us that it gave us what we wanted when we voted to Leave. Another liar. I was halfway through his book about walking with his father. I will now stop and give it to a charity shop, rather than burning it.

  7. Mark B
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    “The Secretary of State may also give assistance for and in connection with the purpose of starting, or improving the agricultural productivity”

    I emphasised the word, may above as I believe the reason being is that before any subsidies are given he will have to seek permission from the relevant EU Commissioner. This is because we will not be leaving the EU. This is why so much of what our kind host writes criticize his own fellow MP’s in government and the lack of clear information which should be common knowledge by now. It is therefore clear that the government, with the collusion of both Westminster and Whitehall, now seek to Remain in the EU via an Association Agreement or, EU-LITE as I have been saying.

    Our kind host is in a difficult position. He wants to be seen to remain loyal to both the party, its leader, and to those that voted to leave. Sadly he, along with 17.4 million of us, are going to realise that such loyalty is not going to be reciprocated. The EU Project cannot be sidelined, let alone stopped.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      As Theresa May herself once said:

      https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-governments-negotiating-objectives-for-exiting-the-eu-pm-speech

      “It would to all intents and purposes mean not leaving the EU at all.”

      • Mark B
        Posted September 15, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        Thank you, Denis

    • Steve
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Mark B

      If the establishment keep us in the EU by association agreement, or EU-Lite, the electorate will see it as betrayal and not accept the situation.

      Agreed JR is in an awkward position, but….next general election will be very interesting, like no other. Twisting the facts, lying, pleading etc will not work on the electorate next time around, and I doubt fence sitting will be seen as any kind of mitigation, rightly or wrongly there are going to be political casualties, but you have Theresa May to blame for that, she’s a ’causer’ i.e. someone who causes things usually detrimental unto others, while expecting to walk away scot free from the stink they’ve created.

      If we are not completely satisfied with our departure from the EU, it’s the end of the conservatives and they know it.

      I suspect the conservatives recently lit a fire under Theresa May’s backside, with the intent to replace her after March next year. Personally I don’t think the public will buy into it, we want a leader who is not afraid to take on the likes of Barnier et al and tell the ungrateful scrotes how it works.

      The people will be after guts for garters if our country is sold out in any way shape or form.

  8. Caterpillar
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Though I can see some arguments for relocalizng the food chain (security, environmentt) I think tariffs should be low or zero for all fresh or other relatively healthy food stuffs. By all means sugar tax at the border, but there is a growing health/obesity issue in the UK and making healthier foods more accessible and affordable should be an aim.

    • Mark
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      There is a very heavy sugar tax on cane sugars already, along with some very limiting quotas. Beet sugars grown in the EU are of course tax free.

      • Ian wragg
        Posted September 15, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        Sugar Beet imported into the EU is duty free unlike Cane used by UK producers which is heavily taxed.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Catterpillar I find that vegetables and indeed some fruit is very low in price compared to junk food. My daughter has just gone Vegan and says her shopping bill has halved.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted September 15, 2018 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        Fedupsoutherner,

        I agree with this for fruit and veg, much either UK grown or outside EU, hopefully more in the future with no food tariffs. But cheaper animal protein sources could be available, which I guess is an easier switch for some.people than going vegan.

  9. forthurst
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Farmers should be given grants for replacing their horrid corrugated iron barns with nice
    timber framed ones. This would help savetheplanet and also re-invigorate the carpenter’s art so a win-win, then. It is important to distract farmers from considering what they should be sowing next year after we have left the EU and how large their herds should be because the Tory government hasn’t a clue.

  10. Shieldsman
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    The environmental Lobby is strong and is more concerned about global warming than farming.
    I have spent many wonderful holidays in the English Lakes. Hill and Dairy Farmers do a fantastic job in looking after the Countryside. They often eke out a sparse existence, so do deserve good subsidies as guardians of the our Countryside.

  11. gordonB
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Ah I don’t know John..it all sounds very aspirational..but very hard to see how farmers who have been cushioned so much from the bother of actually physically farming, as we used to know it, very hard to see those people back out again in the fields doing something completely different. Farmers like a lot of the rest of us have gone soft over the years and are more used to driving Mercs than tractors…what you’re at here and what the government is at with it’s plan is only tinkering around the edges..if we leave without a deal then we have a huge problem..and it’ll be one of reeducation more than anything else. The same goes for fishing and shipping..we are about to turn the whole world on its head.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      No, this world has been turned on its head already, with farmers being paid not to farm, fishermen being paid to do something else instead of fishing.
      We’re about to turn this world onto its feet again hopefully.

      • Crazytimes
        Posted September 15, 2018 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        Yes..the most important word you say there is- ‘hopefully’..hopefully the farmers can relearn and pick up the okd skills..hopefully the farmers will be able to motivate themselves to get up early and get out in the fields..but I doubt it

  12. John Probert
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I see the Governor is talking short term rubbish again

  13. Mike Stallard
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Members of the European Free Trade Association are not necessarily members of the Common Agricultural Policy. We could remain in the EEA – on the Efta pillar – and still leave both CFP and CAP.

    Not a lot of people know that.

    • Jagman84
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      We’d still be taking rules from the EU, Mike. It may suit the Government, but it is not what the majority voted for, in both the referendum and the last GE. Other nations manage perfectly well (not being in the EEA) and so can we.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      “We could remain in the EEA”

      So, Mike, have you secured clear written statements from all 4 of the parties to the EFTA Convention that they would be prepared to make the necessary changes to that treaty, and also from all 31 of the other parties to the EEA Agreement, which includes 3 of those EFTA states but also includes the EU itself, that they would be prepared to make the necessary changes to the EEA Agreement?

      If so, did you make it clear to them that the UK would only want to use that as a temporary arrangement on its way out of the EU, and having caused them a lot of trouble by asking for those treaty changes, which I believe would have to be ratified by over 40 parliaments, the UK would quite soon be wanting another set of treaty changes to leave EFTA and the EEA, and in the meantime the UK intends to abuse a safeguard measure in the EEA Agreement to routinely control immigration from the other member states?

      Perhaps you are among the lot of people who do not know that …

      • Mark B
        Posted September 15, 2018 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        No harm in asking. Anyway, it is certainly better than you MP’s plan. And no one is even buying that.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted September 16, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

          But he hasn’t asked, has he, and nor has the government, so there are no grounds for his assertion … the point is that even if we wanted to do what he suggests it would not be our unilateral decision.

    • Mark
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Make this claim when you can show there in unanimous support among all EEA Agreement counterparties including the EU itself, and the ability to secure the ratification of all the associated parliaments.

    • acorn
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Once the UK leaves the EU, it automatically leaves the EEA. You don’t get membership of the EEA unless you get membership of EFTA first. None of the EFTA countries are looking forward to a UK application.

  14. formula57
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    So this government is using its myopic vision to mess-up agriculture just as it does with everything else then!

    Food production is insufficient to sustain the country and so we are reliant upon imports. Just as with energy policy, one would hope the government’s policies and actions would show rather more awareness of the risks that then arise.

  15. Dave Andrews
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    There has been much concern raised over the potential lack of harvesting workforce once the eastern Europeans stop coming here.
    Can the government set up programmes to mobilise seasonal staff to fulfil this requirement?
    Unemployed people in cities will not have access to the opportunities in rural areas for occasional work, without some organisation making this possible.

    • sm
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Dave, perhaps I’m missing something, but if squads of seasonal workers can venture here, from Eastern Europe say, why can’t UK residents move from one county area to another? After all, there are such things as roads, trains, buses and coaches to assist such an immense enterprise!

      • Dave Andrews
        Posted September 15, 2018 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        What you might be missing is that it is worth people with initiative coming from eastern Europe, because minimum wage here corresponds with a good job where they come from.
        Those here whose unemployment is the consequence of generational benefits dependency are somewhat short of initiative.

    • ian wragg
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Most crops can be harvested using machinery, there was an excellent clip on TV about a French wine producer picking and grading grapes using a tractor attachment.
      using unskilled immigrants to pick crops is the lazy way and a backdoor route for immigration.
      If labour was genuinely required then a Work Permit should be issued for a specific period and the farmer should be responsible for providing accommodation and health insurance.
      If the permit holder stayed in the country then the farmer would be denied a replacement.
      This should be the case for all sectors of the economy.

      • Andy
        Posted September 15, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        Except it is not true. There are still plenty of crops – strawberries for example – which can not be picked by machine. And people who build the machines estainate it will be at least 10 years til they can make one.

        I vote that we send pensioners out to pick fruit. Get them out of their overheated homes, into buses and take them out to the fields to work for their pensions. They wanted Brexit. They don’t like foreigners. Let them pick up the slack.

        Of course it would lead to a drop in viewing figures for Countdown but there are few other downsides.

        • Ian wragg
          Posted September 15, 2018 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

          I said most crops Andy. I do appreciate your difficulties with the English language.

          • Andy
            Posted September 15, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

            I am happy for people like you to go out and pick strawberries – but you don’t want to.

            I am happy for migrants to pick strawberries – but people like you don’t want to let them in.

            I am happy for strawberries to rot in our fields as I can afford imported ones.

            Will you tell the British strawberry growers that you have voted for them to go out of business?

          • Edward2
            Posted September 16, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

            We want pickers to be let in.
            It has always been government policy to allow such visas and after brexit this will continue.
            So your self created problem doesn’t exist.
            It is just more project fear fantasy from people like you.

        • Fedupsoutherner
          Posted September 15, 2018 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          Oh dear Andy. Not got out into the real world yet? The pensioners I know don’t resemble those that you describe. The ones I know are still working and many are running their own businesses and very successful they are too. Others are volunteering often helping the young and others are looking after grandchildren to enable the parents to work. You obviously lead a sheltered life.

        • Beecee
          Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

          Andy – I thought your strawberries grew on trees?

  16. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    “It seems to assume a 21 month delay in exiting the EU”

    I don’t know why that should be 21 months rather than the 24 months of an oxymoronic “status quo” or “standstill” transition, but I think it is worth going back to the original idea that some necessary legal and practical changes would only be completed step by step after we had left the EU, just as some legal and practical changes were only completed gradually after the EEC was formed, and also after we had joined it.

    For example, here in November 2016:

    http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2016/11/27/silly-forecasts/#comment-844780

    “As mentioned before, the 1957 Treaty of Rome said that the common market would be established over a period of twelve years after the treaty had come into force.”

    And that is what Theresa May said originally, before she stabbed us in the back:

    http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2018/03/20/uk-energy/#comment-925967

    “In her original Lancaster House speech of January 17th 2017 Theresa May spoke about the need for an “implementation period” after we had left the EU, which she described in these terms, my CAPITALS for emphasis:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-governments-negotiating-objectives-for-exiting-the-eu-pm-speech

    “… we believe a PHASED process of implementation, in which both Britain and the EU institutions and member states prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us will be in our mutual self-interest. This will give businesses enough time to plan and prepare for those new arrangements.

    This might be about our immigration controls, customs systems or the way in which we co-operate on criminal justice matters. Or it might be about the future legal and regulatory framework for financial services. FOR EACH ISSUE, THE TIME WE NEED TO PHASE-IN THE NEW ARRANGEMENTS MAY DIFFER. Some might be INTRODUCED VERY QUICKLY, some might take longer. And the interim arrangements we rely upon are likely to be a matter of negotiation.

    But the purpose is clear: we will seek to avoid a disruptive cliff-edge, and we will do everything we can to PHASE IN the new arrangements we require as Britain and the EU move towards our new partnership.”

    I was foolish enough to take Theresa May at her word and assume that there would simply be the kind of the transitional provisions which are a commonplace feature of international treaties.

    It didn’t occur to me that the opposition might propose and the government might accept an oxymoronic “status quo” transition in which nothing at all would change, and with control of our fishing waters still being exercised by the EU despite the real prospect of our fishing fleet being wiped out in the meantime.

    Now finally there are some politicians and commentators who are openly admitting what has long been obvious, that this so-called “transition” is not a transition at all, it is just a “standstill”, and it has become a gross betrayal.”

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      So far as I can see this government will fall of the cliff edge long before the country does.

    • ian wragg
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      The Transition (do nothing phase) is to move the cliff edge to 2020 so they can extend the transition (do nothing phase) another b2 years and so on ad infinitum.

    • acorn
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Denis, it is 21 months because that takes it to the end of the 2014 – 2020 EU seven year budget period. The EU bloc’s multi-annual financial framework (MFF) for 2021-2027, starts 01/01/2021. The Brexit divorce bill calculations are principally based on these EU budget periods.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 16, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        OK, thanks.

  17. Fishknife
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    There are millions of sheep in Wales… so why is Welsh Lamb so rare and expensive?

    Farms need seasonal pickers who need seasonal accommodation, which could be ‘holiday cottages’ for the rest of the year.

    Students need living expenses, and an introduction to the work ethic.
    Universities could schedule courses round harvest time.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Fishknife. Not only in Wales but Scotland too. I only buy lamb when the shops have New Zealand lamb in stock at a fraction of the price and just as good. Something goes badly wrong between the farm and the shop regarding prices.

    • Dominic Johnson
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      The average Welsh sheep farm is 200acres
      The smallest new Zealand sheep farms are 2000.

      We don’t have farms in Europe, we have small holdings

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted September 15, 2018 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        And some like my neighbours get a subsidy for farming 40 sheep. Smallholding, yes.

    • Dennis Perrin
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      Good thinking Fish knife

  18. Dennis Perrin
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    If voters bring in John McDonnell, there may be more cash released for everyone including agriculture once the banks are put in their place as servants of society. The philosophy now seems to be that banks make themselves masters over people by the misuse of money. “Labour in government will put finance to work for the real economy.”

  19. Norman
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    This new policy reeks of lefty environmentalist interference. I’ve seen it all before, but its getting worse. It sounds like the ‘Country File’ Disneyland theme-park vision of farming: total anathema, and ruinous! More self-destruct mode. I also detect plenty of EU-speak, which is rampant in Defra. Please leave the farmers alone, and let them do what they know best. Also, NFU apparatchiks are not always representative of the rank and file. The big boys have a very different worldview to the smaller outfits, which are the backbone of rural Britain as a whole.

    • stred
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      Michael Gove seems to have appointed himself as some kind of Green Crusader since he switched sides. Let’s hope that the little green men, who have infiltrated Whitehall, don’t tell him that the best way to stop climate change is to ban cows from passing methane and the only way to do this is to have no cattle. While we are at it we can ban sheep and pigs too and turn the downs over to wood pellet production and the fields to biofuels and soya. The burgers and sausages made to the recipes of a pop star’s late wife actually taste very nice and I have come to prefer them after my son became a veggie but doesn’t like the soyaburgers I bought him. The main drawback though, which apparently the green men have not thought about, is that ‘human beans’, also tend to produce large amounts of methane after eating soya, so much so in my case that I have to spend the night in isolation.

  20. RupertP
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    My family farms 1,500 acres for arable production (wheat, oil seed rape, combinable beans and oats). Our farm is already very efficient (only 2 men do all the farming) and we use the latest equipment and achieve above average results from our farming efforts. The public does not seem to understand that food prices are incredibly low by historic standards (ÂŁ150 for a tonne of wheat means 15 pence for 1Kg wheat, enough for 2 loaves of bread).

    JR is absolutely right that we should be “imposing sensible tariffs against continental competition”, as the truth is that most UK farms (including efficient ones) are ONLY profitable as a result of farm subsidies, which makes up between 15% and 20% of our total income. With the UK government wishing to phase out farming subsidies, farmers need crops in the UK to rise in price by 15-20% to make up the lost income and NOT to have UK prices undermined by subsidised crops from the EU and elsewhere in the world.

    The worry for UK farmers is that the government is going to impose on UK farmers a double whammy – Firstly, our markets will be fully opened to “free trade” from EU producers with no tarriffs and their farmers will continue to be subsidised in the way that we are now, whereas the UK intends removing subsidies from farmers, so we will no longer be able to compete on price with EU producers.

    Secondly, Gove’s proposal is for payment for public goods provided by farmers. We’ve looked at existing environmental schemes from DEFRA and almost all are too marginal financially to bother with – The net income from these schemes (subsidy less cost of work to obtain the subsidy) is simply too small and does not replace subsidy income which is provided without incurring a lot of additional cost. Our hard working farm staff are already fully occupied with trying to produce crop output at ultra low prices to be able to spend a lot more time cultivating lots of additional small plots across the farm to provide more wild meadows for bird food etc.

    No doubt the government will trumpet all the subsidies that are available to farmers under the new regime and then be “very surprised” when there is much lower take-up than expected.

    • sm
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Rupert, it is good to get facts from those directly involved – sadly, it won’t come as much of a surprise to many of us.

      • Mark B
        Posted September 15, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        I agree. Many thanks Rupert.

    • Richard1
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      It would be sensible to link continued farm subsidies to specific incentives to keep – or in places to make – the countryside beautiful, to require proper maintenance of public access via footpaths etc. Also, once we are shot of EU regulation and can introduce GM crops, hopefully farmers can become far less reliant than now on spreading pesticides which do so much to destroy wild flowers, habitats and food for song birds etc. I think the post EU environment could be very positive for farmers and for those who live in and visit rural areas.

      • Stred
        Posted September 16, 2018 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        You think Gove and his band of Green civil masters will go for GM crops? Pigs might fly.

    • David Price
      Posted September 16, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the clear summary Rupert.

      This begs the question how we could have any free trade agreement at all with the EU as long as they maintain the CAP, CFP and subsidies for the energy and manufacturing sectors.

  21. Mark
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    We should be taking advantage of Brexit to end the nonsense of biofuels. Burning woodchips to generate electricity is counterproductive and expensive, being heavily subsidised by billpayers.

    Biodiesel and ethanol reduce vehicle mpg and can be damaging for engines not designed for these fuels. We could grow food crops or pastures instead of subsidising energy crops that turn out to be not really green anyway if you examine their full impacts.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      Couldn’t agree more Mark

  22. rose
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Food Security and self sufficiency must go hand in hand with nurturing the soil and the environment. Stop concreting over fields.

  23. JoolsB
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    “This week the government produced an “Agriculture Bill”. ”

    John, can you confirm any agricultural policies the UK Government comes up with will affect the UK as a whole or will Scotland, Wales & NI be given yet more powers to make their own agricultural policies that work in their best interests whilst UK politicians, including those from Scotland, Wales & NI will continue to dictate what happens in England.

    How on earth is that going to work?

  24. Christine
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    John, I wish you could be in charge. Gove seems to have lost the plot. Caring for the environment is good but we need to concentrate on increasing food production as we leave the EU. Farmers need time to breed more livestock and given help to achieve this objective. Fishermen can’t fish unless they have trawlers. Help must be provided to build new trawlers and fish processing plants. It seems to me that the Government is so caught up in delaying and thwarting Brexit that they haven’t given any thought to preparing to reap the future benefits.

  25. mancunius
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    In agriculture, as in every other area, the government is blithely sowing mines as it goes along, then standing back and ordering us to walk forwards over them.

  26. Poetish
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    These “comments” about “agriculture”. A lament

    Darkening beauty

    Leaving the EU is like moving into a great house but with so much to do in the garden

    • mancunius
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

      A good simile, poetish, and one that caught the attention of an English poet a century ago, at the end of another conflict. I think he put it rather well:

      “Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
      By singing:-” Oh, how beautiful,” and sitting in the shade
      While better men than we go out and start their working lives
      At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives.

      There’s not a pair of legs so thin, there’s not a head so thick,
      There’s not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick
      But it can find some needful job that’s crying to be done,
      For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one.

      Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
      If it’s only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
      And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
      You will find yourself a partner In the Glory of the Garden.

      Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
      That half a proper gardener’s work is done upon his knees,
      So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
      For the Glory of the Garden that it may not pass away!
      And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away ! “

      • Poetish
        Posted September 16, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        I have always loved this poem of sorts, in a movie when he SAID..the actor… in my opinion, to make it go, so to speak
        We seek him here, we seek him there,
        Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
        Is he in heaven? — Is he in hell?
        That damned, elusive Pimpernel 🙂

      • Poetish
        Posted September 16, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        The director of an important Shakespeare Library has asked about Churchill’s connections to Shakespeare (aside for them being the two greatest Englishmen)
        “Life is but a dream, within a dream.”<- This is the real Shakespeare
        Sink me, I cannot think what it all means. Hands up anyone who knows!

  27. gregory martin
    Posted September 15, 2018 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    The Agriculture Bill may be downloaded here:

    https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2017-2019/0266/cbill_2017-20190266_en_1.htm

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/landmark-agriculture-bill-to-deliver-a-green-brexit
    The 68 line press bulletin , from which most of the press coverage was derived, does not contain the word ‘Food’ at all!!

  28. The Prangwizard
    Posted September 16, 2018 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I’m a bit late to this party but the bill’s contents show just how Gove is the wring type of mind to be in the job. I wonder how many farms he has been to see and stayed on long enough each time to hear what farmers say and to understand them. He’d rather spend his time virtue signaling his green credentials as a supplicant to the Green lobby.

    And could I ask Mr Redwood, if the bill not significantly amended will you vote against it. Otherwise you just encourage this nonsense. And I hope you wouldn’t wish to play with the word ‘significantly’.

    And finally I am in Holland at the moment and would like to a comparison sometime between it and us in terms of industrial and agricultural policy and production. They seem well off and well administered – ahead of us.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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