Let’s transform UK agriculture

All the time we have been in the EU the Common Agriculture Policy has kept the UK under controls which have not suited us. Market share has fallen. We have seen more and more temperate food brought in from the continent, reducing our home market share. Food miles have increased, our roads have been clogged with more foreign trucks travelling longer distances with food imports.

Much of our salad needs and flowers now come in from the Netherlands. Many of our vegetables come in from Spain. Large amounts of dairy produce come from France. Beef comes in from several countries, and pork arrives especially from Denmark. Many of these items are things we could grow or rear for ourselves. The Netherlands has no climate advantage over us. Low value vegetables should not be cheaper when hauled hundreds of miles from Spain.

Once we are free to set our own tariffs we can remove all tariffs on food we cannot produce for ourselves. There should be  no further need for taxes on  citrus fruits, for example. We may also well decide to have lower average tariffs on temperate food than the EU makes us impose, as we will be levying them on  the EU as well as on the rest of the world.

We will also decide on our own levels of farm subsidy and how it should be allocated. The new UK system should place a premium on increasing our market shares. There should be tax and subsidy inducements to increase output and to mechanise farms. The UK should harness AI and robotics to the cause of farm improvement, building two industries at the same time. Intelligent use of  newly targeted subsidies and sensible tariffs could give us a big boost with more home grown food and more domestic development of the technology a new farm should deploy.

We need more investment in extending the growing seasons for vegetables, fruit and flowers and other market gardening activities. We could grow more with the right glasshouses and polytunnels, just as the Dutch do with similar weather.

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226 Comments

  1. Peter VAN LEEUWEN
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    As one example: the Netherlands is subject to the same climate as the UK. It is also subject to the same C.A.P. as the UK (until 31-10-2019)
    So why didn’t Britain grow more of its own salads 10, 20, or 30 years ago?
    It cannot have been the C.AP. or the climate!

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 5:59 am | Permalink

      Quite.

      • NickC
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        Anon, Not really. Factors such as other more attractive crops and activities, the cost of electricity, planning consents, land ownership and tenancies, and supermarket purchasing decisions (eg Asda now buys its mushrooms from Poland) all affect what we produce. And Holland may have the same climate as the south of England but that’s not true about the whole UK.

      • ukretired123
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Quite What?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:03 am | Permalink

      Other industries in the UK are more profitable so better usually to do those. Also planning laws are restrictive, staff are expensive, employment laws restrictive, endless red tape, high taxes and land costs in the UK are generally higher too. Also the Dutch growers are closer to a much larger market they can deliver too more easily than the UK.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:15 am | Permalink

      Good point Peter.

      I guess lack of foresight and investment in the UK 🙁

    • Alison
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:15 am | Permalink

      Peter, The Netherlands’ climate is not similar to that of the UK. It is similar to parts of Kent in particular, Essex, if you are talking about temperatures.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      Perhaps the Netherlands hasn’t put such a premium as UK governments in the past 10,20 30 years on its own land being used to build new houses to house “incomers”.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      This is a great question John, why did we stop growing our own and rearing our own pigs if we were all subject to the same agreement and could have done?

    • Everhopeful
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Scare stories..salmonella,CJD, listeria have all been used to undermine British farming.
      Supermarkets which have subverted seasonal availability and the EU regulations have gradually closed down small growers.
      France was earmarked to be the “farmer of Europe”and much help was given towards that aim.
      Our lovely politicians have stood by whist both our food and manufacturing industries (and jobs) were handed on a plate to Germany and France.
      I remember going to Dieppe market in the 1990s where freshly home slaughtered chickens and homemade cheese were for sale. ( health and safety…hahaha!).
      Try doing that here! They’ve shut down many markets anyway…another blow to farmers.

    • Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      I think we have to give credit to the skills of dutch horticulturalists here which are recognised globally. Whether it is growing tulips or tomatoes they have specialist skills, know how and working practices (such as the use of hydroponics) which makes them highly competitive with other forms of horticulture. As you say this is despite CAP. It shows that there are other factors at work but a future UK farming strategy could offer incentives (and access to the skills needed) to UK producers to embrace this on aspects such as reduced use of water for growing crops.

      • Longinus
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        Mass produced tomatoes, salad and strawberries are tasteless and expensive compared to homegrown produce.

        • Posted July 31, 2019 at 9:30 am | Permalink

          Don’t fully agree. Mass market horticulture tends to deliver low cost tasteless tomatoes as that is what the big supermarkets ask for. The varieties that are grown have high yields, thick skins (to allow easier transportation and handling) and are picked green and then often ripened in transit using ethylene. This also extends their life, which is important to supermarkets. So the loss of taste is mainly down to the commercial drivers – price/varieties grown / handling methods – not the growing method (hydroponics or soil). Supermarkets worry little about taste as long as its cheap. They know that selling tastier tomatoes for five times the price is a niche market.

          Growing heritage varieties, such as Pink Brandywine or lower yielding tomatoes such as San Marzano using hydroponics can deliver great taste, especially if they are allowed to ripen before being picked. They do deliver lower yields and are difficult to handle in volume hence why you rarely see them. One can argue that the nutrient mix does not replicate the flavours from particular soils, but actually the nutrient mix could be varied to achieve this if desired.

        • Fred H
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 9:51 am | Permalink

          exactly. People get used to tasteless everything, remember the French flooding us with horrible green apples. We stopped buying, that killed that flood.

    • jerry
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      @PVL; Whilst I agree with the general thrust of your comment the UK and the Netherlands do not share the same topography, meaning the UK is at a disadvantage when it comes to economies of scale and thus wholesale price.

      • Know-Dice
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        What are you suggesting Jerry?
        That Holland is flat and boring!!!

    • Christine
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      Where I grew up, we used to grow most of the tomatoes consumed in the UK. They were fantastic for flavour and quality. Now the industry has gone. I expect this in part is due to high electricity costs. So firstly, I agree, we have to look at why the UK isn’t as successful as the Netherlands. Also where I live we have a lot of cattle and sheep production but every year more of this land is taken for housing. We are a small country with an ever-growing population. Farming and housing are fighting for the same finite resource.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        @Christine: Have you seen how small our country is compared to yours and how large its growing population?

    • ukretired123
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      Dear Peter Van Leeuwen

      The Dutch had the advantage of a CAP 25 years before Britain swallowed to join the EEC.
      British farmers could not compete fairly with the industrial scale of Dutch growers who were then so well established they dominated and decimated all other European growers.

      Britain has never been self sufficient in food unlike France and has to import approx 50% historically to survive. The CAP was initially designed to protect French farmers from outside competition and they are not happy with Brexit as are the Dutch.

      • ukretired123
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        Not a level playing field like Holland!

        Please don’t compare apples with oranges.

        • hefner, Esq.
          Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          The typical English answer, nothing to do with us, everything due to the ‘bloody foreigners’. After Brexit, it might be time for the English (yes the English) to accept responsibility for what will be happening to them. For centuries (well two) the British Empire allowed the ‘mother country’ to pillage other economies. With the two WWs, the USA became the top dog and under US pressure and that of independence movements in its colonies Britain lost its captive market with the added consequence of the drop in the value of the pound. Unfortunately the British politicians over the last century have continued (to this day, just listen to Al de Piffle Johnson) to feed the country with a propaganda not so dissimilar to what was produced in the socialist republics of the USSR and Eastern Europe: Global Britain, the best ‘this and that’ in the world, our oyster obviously…
          Unfortunately with Brexit, it is the older generation, those born in the 40s to 60s, who are more likely to have fully swallowed this propaganda and are continuing to this day to believe in this rosy dream.
          I have some bad news for you: I’m afraid that freed from the shackles of the EU but confronted to the realities of the real wide/wild world, if you go on thinking of yourselves as the privileged ones (as ‘we are British’) so much better than all these pesky Europeans and other farther-away foreigners, you are likely to be awfully disappointed.

          • NickC
            Posted July 30, 2019 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

            Hefner Esq, Why do you think the UK is incapable of being as independent of the EU as New Zealand is?

          • hefner, Esq.
            Posted July 31, 2019 at 8:32 am | Permalink

            See above: you need to change your way of looking at the world. When NZ was ‘dumped’ by the UK in the ’70s it rearranged its whole trade towards the Pacific-bordering countries. So please go ahead and try hard to do the same. At present, it would appear for example that moving the sheep market from the EU to Japan would mean a decrease in such export revenues from £385m annual to roughly £11m annual. Please don’t let the politicians think you fully accept their blah blah and are happy with such an outcome. Ask the new Trade Secretary what her exact plans are and check whether they make sense.

          • NickC
            Posted July 31, 2019 at 9:50 am | Permalink

            Hefner Esq, That’s not the question I posed. The issue for me is not your various imaginary dooms for the UK, it is why Remains like you base your doom scenarios on the supposed incapability of the UK being as independent as New Zealand. Presumably you don’t answer that basic point because you can’t.

          • hefner, Esq.
            Posted July 31, 2019 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

            to answer your exact question:
            After Brexit, UK businesses will be free from the shackles from the EU and will be free to trade with whatever country they please. For what I had picked from various other contributors on this blog, this kind of trade already exists but should obviously increase and possibly become cheaper. I don’t think I have any real disagreement with you in that respect. Whether or not the UK will be as independent as NZ is to be seen; after all NZ is part of some non-EU trade agreements and trade agreements usually need at least two to tango.
            I only wish good luck to the UK for whatever trade agreements Liz Truss is going to bring.

          • Posted August 1, 2019 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

            You seem to presuppose that all trade with the EU will cease immediately . I believe that to be most unlikely . We are not asking for anything from the EU that we are not prepared to concede . Free trade is a two way process but why should we pay a net £10/£15 billion to Brussels ( I know it does vary from year to year ) just for the privilege of free trade . It’s not free at all if we cough up so much money !

          • mr john mchugh
            Posted August 1, 2019 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

            Wow hefner.
            It appears you have no idea why we want to leave. Maybe you are fed the type of propaganda you state from your media, a bit like we have been but now see through it and can join the dots.
            You, on the other hand, were probably born in the 80s and 90s and who have been brought up on a Common Purpose teaching method that any central views are deemed extreme right wing.

            You clearly have no idea of the political and economical issues but just merrily carry on into the abyss, until one day you will wake up and say : “how did we get here?”

            Brexit brought one thing to the people of the UK. It woke us up to the harsh reality of where we were unwittingly headed, had we stayed in the Eu. Taken on a ride of lies and deceit from our past PMs and high-profile politicians, lining their pockets for themselves and their families with no regard for the public. Well this has now changed! Unlike in your country, the people of the UK are SOVEREIGN. The people in power have been given a proxy to serve the people, not themselves (Blair, Cameron, May, etc.). The UK public is now awake. I suggest you start following suit before it is too late because the World’s financiers have their claws in YOU.

            You think the Eu army is about external influences? Tell me where has the voice of the Eu been when they say they care about Eu citizens. Complete silence on the violent attacks of the Catalans in Spain and the Yellow Vests in France.
            Welcome to the police state of Europe, no different to the old USSR.

            Oh yes, we have our issues with judges abusing power and never being brought to justice (Judge …….arresting, trialling and sending to prison a member of the public within the space of five hours on trumped up charges – released on appeal and all charges dropped) but once we get rid of the head of the dragon (Eu) we can then deal with the the torso (the UK government).

            Enjoy life.

          • libertarian
            Posted August 1, 2019 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

            hefner

            You really need to wake up geographic proximity in a world dominated by digital services is NOT the future . 86% of the UK economy is in services , its as easy to do business in New Zealand as it is in France

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        @ukretired123: Doesn’t “25” sound a bit exagerated, considering that a CAP wasn’t really agreed before 1960?
        I think that the UK gave less priority to investing in agriculture that e.g. the Netherlands. Maybe that favouring industry and services was a good choice at that time? The Netherlands was too small for e.g. a large car industry and chose instead to apply innovation to farming and growing.

        • ukretired123
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 9:43 am | Permalink

          Dear Peter VL

          Post WW2 plans for the Common Market were laid and formed after 1950 aided by Britain repaying USA Marshall Plan loans which then sent to rebuild Germany in the main.
          Holland benefited from this economic growth hugely before Britain was finally allowed to join in 1973 but struggled against established Dutch growers. That is why we see HGV lorries from Hollland daily on our roads today laden with flowers 3rd
          History I have witnessed myself.

        • mr john mchugh
          Posted August 1, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

          The CAP also aided the large rich farmland owners in the UK. They are paid for fallow land through the CAP i.e we will pay you not to produce food. Now tell me who that helps in the long term. Certainly not the UK public
          It is quite amusing today that we hear the rich landowners voting Remain as they will lose their free money, while the small holding farmers cannot wait to leave the Eu.

    • agricola
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      I think it is because farmers are essentially conservative in the adjectival sense of the word. Our eating habits have been slow to evolve despite the profusion of tv cooking programmes we get. I would observe that over the last five years farmers have begun to respond to increasing demand for items like Bok Choi and Tarragon for example. Tomatoes and Stawberries are grown in greater varieties and out of season via hydroponics in tunnels. The growing facilities follow market demand, but rest assured we already import less and it is a growing trend. It does not affect Holland but thanks to climate change we are producing wine and fizzy wine ( Don’t upset the French) in ever increasing quantities and of excellent quality. Fishing, which should be farming in a boat, offers every opportunity to get back to allowing the full life growth of fish, through sustainable fishing. The CFP is a gross example of the rape of the sea, and in our waters it must end. For medicinal purposes we are now growing our own Canabis I believe, yet another blow for Holland to suffer. Come back in ten years and lets see how it has all evolved, but do not ever underestimate the Brits. Look at history and realise what we are capable of, some of it to the advantage of our friends the Dutch.

    • Andy
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      We use to produce much more of our own food. I had an interest in a Dairy Farm 30 years ago and we were fined for exceeding our milk quota, a quota imposed by the EU and of which we had no knowledge. This was imposed specifically to reduce UK production to the advantage of Irish, French and German farmers. When eventually we obtained the quota we began to pour milk away and then reduced the number in the herd, but this had the knock on of making the farm borderline profitable. You see a similar scenario in apple production for example where UK orchards have been grubbed to provide market share for French, Spanish Italian and German orchards who supply what is basically inferior products.

      • Andy
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        The EU didn’t exist 30 years ago. Fined by a non-existent entity.
        Sums up Brexit.

        • sm
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 6:14 am | Permalink

          Smart alec, the precursor of the EU, the EEC, most definitely imposed quotas and I very clearly remember scenes of dairy farmers pouring milk down drains — and also a number of suicides in the dairy community as farms were ruined.

        • Alison
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 6:45 am | Permalink

          The EEC changed its name to EU (and changed its reach, of course). As you well know. Or perhaps you didn’t … I’d be tempted to say, sums up remainers. But I don’t like to be rude and I don’t like generalising.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 7:09 am | Permalink

          You are being silly Andy.
          The agriculture policies and quotas that nice Andy refers to were operating well before the EEC changed its name to the EU
          Yet again you show a remarkable lack of knowledge about the organisation you love.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 31, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        Andy. Our own food? What of oranges, bananas, grapes, Jersey spuds, Med tomatoes, Danish bacon, NZ lamb, Argie beef, French cheeses. Assisted by the growth and dominance of out-of-town supermarkets. In the search for ever cheaper produce to attract customers, they have forced pricing down close to the point of non-profit for UK producers.

      • Posted August 1, 2019 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        That’s a consequence of our EU membership which few people know about . I was working on a dairy farm in those days and can confirm what you say . It caused the closing down of many efficient family farms in my locality because they were not allowed to produce an economic amount of milk . There was a surplus of dairy products in Europe at the time but the UK had never contributed to it . As you say our dairy industry , one of the most efficient if not THE most efficient in the world , was sacrificed to appease the French and Irish for which we received no recognition at all . So much for EU solidarity !

    • BillM
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      30 years ago, and beyond, we did. Then came Maastricht and I suspect the source of infamous bureaucratic rules and regulations that helped Continental farmers but hindered or crippled our own.

      • jerry
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        @BillM; The decline started well before Maastricht…

    • Gordon Merrett
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      I have understood that in the Netherlands growers receive some sort of help (subsidies) for under glass heating.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

        @Gordon Merrett: I believe they did, but not in a way that would have distorted competition – the EU does not allow such practices.

        • Jiminyjim
          Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

          Complete nonsense, PVL, speak to UK tomato growers!

        • NickC
          Posted July 30, 2019 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

          PvL, The German car industry prospers on mercantilism! The EU is riddled with favouritism, corruption, subsidies, and self-serving rules.

          • hefner, Esq.
            Posted July 31, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

            NickC, thanks for a very concise description of what the British Empire was.

          • NickC
            Posted July 31, 2019 at 9:52 am | Permalink

            Hefner Esq, The British empire does not exist any more, the EU empire does. You are hand waving.

          • jerry
            Posted August 1, 2019 at 7:52 am | Permalink

            @hefner, Esq; But the British Empire was just that -rightly or wrongly, the EU is not (yet), thus the EU should not be riddled with favouritism any more than the WTO or CPTPP (+ NAFTA etc) should be for example – the EC either believes in the concept of free & fair trade or they don’t, and if they don’t then there is no place for the existence of the EU and perhaps not even the EEA and EFTA.

          • libertarian
            Posted August 1, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

            hefner

            This may come as a shock the Roma Empire and the Persian Empire have gone along with the British Empire. We are just left with the EU empire . Get up to date theres a good chap

          • jerry
            Posted August 2, 2019 at 7:04 am | Permalink

            @libertarian; “We are just left with the EU empire”

            Not forgetting, on your logic, the ’empires’ that are the USA and Russia…

            The EU is not an empire, it is not even a true Union or Federation (yet), this is why the “EU” should not have a seat on the WTO or appoint/host Ambassadors for example.

        • Fred H
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink

          Peter….’EU does not allow such practices’. yeah right.

    • NickC
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      PvL, Don’t worry, we’ll put a tariff on imports from Holland, to kickstart our own producers. We’ll still be better off with lower than EU tariffs on world foods. But consequently we’ll buy less EU food. There, is that more to your liking?

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        @NickC: Why do you sound so vengeful? It is your country filing for divorce, not ours.

        • Longinus
          Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

          Enough of the marriage analogy. We never consented to joining the EU. We are leaving a corrupt club with no obligation to pay future costs.

          • bill brown
            Posted July 31, 2019 at 6:48 am | Permalink

            Longinus,

            Fortunately 70% of all Scandinavians disagree with you

          • libertarian
            Posted August 1, 2019 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

            Dear pretend Bill Brown

            Is that the 70% of all scandinavians or just the ones in the EU Because the ones not in repeatedly vote not to join ?

        • Fedupsoutherner
          Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

          PVL. So why are you so concerned about it and constantly gloating while hoping it all goes tits up for us?

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 31, 2019 at 9:28 am | Permalink

            @Fedupsoutherner: I’m not gloating. I’m concerned because you are in the process of cause considerable economic damage. I don’t have to “hope” that it will all go tits up for you. General opinion on hte continent is that a no-deal Brexit will cost the UK 4x more than the EU27. With the new government it really seems that the UK wants to shoot itself in the foot (n0-deal) and the continental reaction is, “if they want to, just let them”.
            Opinions and expectations in the UK may well differ, time will tell.

        • NickC
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 12:01 am | Permalink

          PvL, Because you normally sound so vengeful? Another Remain who dishes it out but can’t take it. We are not “filing for divorce” – there was no marriage. We don’t like your empire.

          We think you are blindly entering into an artificial sub-fascist construct, and we are baffled why Europeans of supposed sense are so gullible for yet another anti-democratic political wheeze. Especially as our immediate forefathers spent their blood and our treasure giving you your nations back.

          We do not appreciate being treated as the “treasure island”, nor made into an EU colony. And basically what we do to leave and after, is none of your business. Any more.

        • Fred H
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          Peter…vengeful?. thats good. We are struggling to persuade the courts and people that we are stuck in an abusive relationship. We still ‘love’ him, but are getting beaten up daily. Extrication is the only answer.

      • bill brown
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

        NickC

        Stop and read what you are writing it is real nonsense

        • mr john mchugh
          Posted August 1, 2019 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

          why is it nonsense? Because you disagree with him?

        • libertarian
          Posted August 1, 2019 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

          bills hans brown

          Doesn’t matter how many names you make up your posts are still pointless

      • tim
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

        good on yer mate, and how about we throw say £350,000,000 a week in subsidies to farmers,and fishers, and steel, and alluminium, and any thing we want, we would be ultra competitive then

    • Ken Smith
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Correct. Brexit is just a coverstory for a far right coup in the UK. It has no upside for ordinary people

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

        Give over !

        We are in the grip of leftist domination from media to law to entertainment to civil service to police and now coming to military.

      • NickC
        Posted July 31, 2019 at 12:08 am | Permalink

        Ken Smith, Wrong. And the upside is we will once again be able to democratically elect – and remove – the government making our laws. Why do you want to be ruled by unaccountable foreigners, most of whom the UK electorate does not elect, and some of whom no-one elects? Is it your inner totalitarian peeping out?

      • mr john mchugh
        Posted August 1, 2019 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Grow up. Right wing is leaving the Eu? You clearly have no idea about why we chose to leave.

    • Mark
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      I recall that Dutch greenhouses were able to get subsidised energy that they also used to enhance CO2 levels and plant growth. I think this was a permitted exemption to the wider EU rules granted because it had long been operated.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        @Mark: I cannot imagine that would explain the difference. I think the UK made different choices about in which sectors to invest.
        I actually doubt that those in power would suddenly invest a lot in the agro sector, after 31-10-2019.

        • APL
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 6:27 am | Permalink

          PvL: ” I cannot imagine that would explain the difference. ”

          I don’ t know about then, but more recently because of the perverse incentives of the CAP and the resulting glut of some products, remember the ‘wine lake’ or the ‘pork mountain’ the British government introduced ‘set aside’ paying farmers not to produce any food.

          In fact, I was going to lay the blame for ‘set aside’ squarely on the UK government. But according to Wiki it’s a European Union initiative.

          Set-aside was an incentive scheme introduced by the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1988 (Regulation (EEC) 1272/88),[1] to (i) help reduce the large and costly surpluses produced in Europe under the guaranteed price system of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); and (ii) to deliver some environmental benefits following considerable damage to agricultural ecosystems and wildlife as a result of the intensification of agriculture.

          Note: ‘Set aside’ was in part intended to alleviate the damage caused to the agricultural ecosystems as a result of the CAP.

    • Prigger
      Posted July 31, 2019 at 4:30 am | Permalink

      There was a special news item shown some time ago on the front pages of one or two newspapers. Something to do with WWII. It was a copy of the front page of “News of the World” .
      It was a moment when the Germans were withdrawing from Holland and British troops were throwing them out. The Dutch people were so hungry they had taken to eating tulip bulbs.
      The Germans could not get food supplies to them and none was available anyway. So the German and British Generals made a Battle-Field decision.
      The result as shown in the picture: German tanks with guns at the ready..in a line….’allowing British lorries carrying food for the Dutch to pass by.

      Conclusion:The Dutch are good at growing food but when it comes to distribution the British are the Champions!

      We leave the EU on 30th October 2019. We shall be taking our lorries with us!
      Shock and Awe!

  2. Mark B
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    And how is this going to be paid for ?

    It is easy to say but, if the UK could produce more for itself and had the market to support it, don’t you think it would have been done.

    Subsidies to farmers need to be maintained. Not that I am in favour of such but, you just cannot cut them off. Slowly but surely you need to seen them off.

    Like many here I want firm action taken by our government with regards to fishing and our waters. No more Pulse Fishing !

    Finally. How can we ever grow enough food when the government are importing more and more people ? People who need to live somewhere and that usually means on once arriable land.

    More joined up thinking please

    • J Bush
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      Well said

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Macron needs to be facing the political disaster of seeing his fishing fleet banned from British waters on 1st November. And the government should be working with industry to encourage British consumers to eat more British fish.

      • 'None of the above'.
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        AND Welsh Lamb, of course.

        • a-tracy
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 9:27 am | Permalink

          Someone told me last night that Welsh Lamb was too expensive and that’s why import more than the homegrown meat produced? Seems odd we can bring it halfway around the world cheaper.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        Macron should, with luck, see their sales of wine, cheese and other products fall significantly. Why are we buying so many Spanish tomatoes? Is it length of growing season, then we do indeed need far more large scale green houses. The aim has to be focus on self-sufficiency. About time too.

        • Original Richard
          Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

          I have not bought any French agricultural products since 1990 when French farmers set fire to one truckload of live British sheep, killing 219 of them as well as poisoning, slitting throats and dousing others with insecticide.

          I intend to extend this policy.

          • NickC
            Posted July 31, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

            Original Richard, Well done and well said. I too notice what various EU politicians have said to us and about us. So I now I actively search for alternatives to French, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Irish (Eire) products. Previously I just avoided them if I could.

    • libertarian
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Mark B

      Less than 10% of England is built on and that includes roads, railways , airports etc etc

      We have huge amounts of space to grow stuff. What we need is an end to government interference and let the market determine what works.

      For an example of how this works in practice google New Zealand

    • jerry
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      @Mark B; “how is this [support] going to be paid for ?”

      The same way as it was funded in the 1950s?…

    • Clive L
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      I agree Mark with many of your comments . I was connected to the agricultural industry for many years , and the main worry for me and many others was that thousands and thousands of acres were being taken out for food production to cater for the mad housing boom . More people to feed , suddenly not enough acres to grow essentials . As usual nobody fronts up to the obvious . Way to little , regrettably way to late .

      • jerry
        Posted July 31, 2019 at 6:29 am | Permalink

        @Clive L; “the main worry for me and many others was that thousands and thousands of acres were being taken out for food production to cater for the mad housing boom “

        I take it Clive that you and your children still live with your (or your spouse) parents and grandparents, or at the very least live in a HMO or commune with other families, after all who has wanted their wanted their own home since 1945 -if not before!

        How much farming land was taken out of production when the massive 1930s housing schemes were built, or the 1950s era New Towns etc. – the way some on this site bleat anyone might think such schemes are have only come about since 1973 and our EEC/EU membership…

      • a-tracy
        Posted July 31, 2019 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        People in the Countryside don’t like apartments, but more apartments for retiree downsizers are required to free up family homes on the smaller footprint, but reasonable size apartment where you can have your own washing machine at least!

    • AlmostDead
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Why can’t you cut off the farmers. They are a dead weight. Scroungers

      • Fred H
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        what utter nonsense. What will we eat? Our cats and dogs? Horses anyone, although I have always suspected we have been eating French horses.

        • NickC
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 12:14 am | Permalink

          FredH, Almostdead may be just back from his hols in Venezuela where pet rabbits are the dish de jour. Although what happens when the only rabbit’s gone only Maduro knows.

    • Hugh Gunn
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Well, Hinkley C is being built the other side of Bridgwater bay from me, and will produce 3.2 GW of electricity, what should not be forgotten is that it will have, as a by product more than 5 GWof surplus thermal energy. With a bit of joined up thinking, and some planning help we could grow a few vegs in the Bridgwater area. Morrisons is already quite active there.

  3. agricola
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    All you say is true. Given the right incentives I am sure most farmers will respond to new market opportunities.

    Just make sure they get a worthwhile return by controlling the excesses of the big supermarkets. I can almost guarantee they will try to exploit the Brexit transit by jacking up consumer prices. Put in place a watchdog with teeth, not another Offcom who are totally unfit for purpose.

    • agricola
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      I would add, on reflection, that farming has been enjoying subsidy payments under CAP from the EU. Not generosity on the part of the EU, these payments came from our gross contribution to the EU. They were often designed to support the EUs agricultural policy which was not necessarily for the benefit of consumers. These payments need to continue for about five years on a shrinking scale, paid by the treasury because we would no longer be paying the EU.

      Farming is a long term business and has to be planned well ahead. Five years would give farmers time to adjust, either in what they produce or in how they market it.

      Government might need to consider offering long term loans at the low rates that Government pay for money. These could be used exclusively for UK owned and operated farming and fishing projects where expensive capital equipment is required. I would restrict it to businesses that are already operating in these fields and not for startup tax absorbing schemes by outsiders.

    • Richard
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      An important point here is that the Competition and Markets Authority may need beefing up. Over the years many mergers have been waved through despite reducing market choice.
      But supermarkets compete in a is a fairly competitive market.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      We need more than ever a ‘Buy British’ campaign. The supermarkets have a lot to answer for – milk pricing is a classic. They force farming return on milk almost to the point of non profit. In fact many pulled out. Pricing is ridiculous – add 4p a pint and they will return to production – but then you have the quota controversy.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    “We could grow more with the right glasshouses and polytunnels, just as the Dutch do with similar weather” Indeed we could, but cheaper energy is also needed so get fracking. They often also increase the C02 levels significantly in the greenhouses so as to increase plant growth rates.

    The small increase in atmospheric C02 we have had so far is similarly helping green the planet and increasing world food production rather well. This for humans and indeed all animals, insects etc. It is not the devil gas or “carbon pollution” that the “BBC think” types keep pretenting it is. I see Greta Thunberg is to sail to a US climate conference (taking two weeks) on a 60 ft racing yacht. How much energy does it take to produce, house & maintain a 60ft racing yacht per useful passenger mile? An economy flight on a jumbo jet would be rather more energy and time efficient if you feel you must to to these religious conventions!

    I estimate at least 100 times more efficient. The jumbo might carry 10,000 people to the US in two weeks costing say £100 per person transported. The 60 ft racing boat perhaps more like £10,000 per person.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      The racing yacht is more fun though at that age.

    • Mark
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      She better have good sea legs. Perhaps there is a Transatlantic liner sailing as a reserve option in case she has difficulty.

  5. mickc
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    All well and good…but planning laws will not allow the quantity of polytunnels needed.
    In fact, unless there is a wholesale revision of planning legislation we won’t build enough housing either.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      Indeed and the expensive housing means higher wage costs and labour shortages in some areas. So these industries stuggle to compete and people migrate to other industries.

    • agricola
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      I was under the belief that planning law for agricultural enterprises, in terms of building, was infinitely more relaxed than that for housing. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think a few polytunnels would suffer much restriction.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        a few polytunnels? We need dozens of acres all over the place, especially in the southern counties where the climate is generally better. You make it sound like the sort of thing we could build in our gardens!

      • mickc
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        I think you are wrong. I recall there was a campaign against polytunnels some years ago, led by Monty Don. Further restrictions were introduced, I believe.
        Also we aren’t talking of a few polytunnels. To be commercially viable there has to be the relevant economies of scale….so large numbers.

        • Fedupsoutherner
          Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

          Mickc, I’d rather look at poly tunnels than bloody great noisy wind turbines like we had to endure in Scotland.

    • James1
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      So Mr Varadkar is insisting that we sign a treaty that has been rejected three times by our parliament. Why doesn’t Boris on camera unceremoniously tear up the treaty. Perhaps then Mr Varadkar and his cohorts in Brussels might get the message.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        Indeed he should, but I rather fear he will push it through with just a minor change or two. Almost the whole of the W/A is appalling and totally unacceptable.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        It would take him a while- remember the telephone tearing adverts/competitions. I doubt Boris could tear the WA & PD in his bare hands – we need an industrial shredder!

      • Andy
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

        Maybe Boris isn’t quite that much of a moron?

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Government (or EU subsidies) are not a good idea in the long term (or even in the short term). They are the reason farming is such a drain on the tax payer and in such a mess. A huge adjustment to the real market is needed. These subsidies can only come from taxing other sound businesses (making these industries far less competitive). This to maintain other industries that probably make rather little sense in the UK.

    Endless government intervention is distorting the economy hugely away from what makes economic sense and what the markets demand. Government subsidies, market distortions, a hugely irrational (and absurdly high) tax system and red tape everywhere is doing huge economic damage.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:14 am | Permalink

      We have huge government anti-market distortions in energy, health care, transport systems, farming, land use, housing, schools, universities, building rules, employment, planning rules …… sweep nearly all of it away and become efficient again.

      With some civilised safety net for the few who need it for health or other reasons of course.

    • jerry
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      @LL; Re your second paragraph, yet farming and growing in the 1950s, with its huge post WW2 government intervention and thus “drain on the tax payer”, was some of the most productive periods in UK agriculture, that lead to massive reductions in the price to the end consumer.

      The problem is not intervention per se, the problem has been the wrong intervention or non at all, due to free market ideology. Many of the policies you push Mr LifeIdealogical are the policies that have, over the last 40 years, lead us to were we are today, from the reduction of the old EEC farm-gate price polices (the old food mountains) to UK domestic policies of reducing state run product/sector industry research or Marketing Boards etc.

    • Sharon Jagger
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Life logic

      I agree that a huge adjustment and many changes need to be made to our farming industry. But, we’ll be able to do so, once we are independent again.

      When it costs more to inoculate a lamb to be sold at market, than it will be sold for – then there’s something really wrong with the system!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

        Indeed.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        And how many of you knew it costs the farmer £16 to have a dead lamb/sheep incinerated? People make a fuss when a farmer shoots crows on the land, but the bastards peck the eyes out of new born lambs if the mother is not paying enough attention. No funeral fires permitted.

    • James1
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      O/t The Biased Broadcasting Corporation at it again today. On both radio and television. Unremitting tortuous nonsense about bad Brexit. We so seldom if ever hear any words about the opportunities of Brexit that we can grasp and implement when we have extricated ourselves from the failing undemocratic Brussels cabal.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        Fortunately the BBC have insulted a lot of people with their comedies and dramas. Their lefty politics is well out in the open and we aren’t listening anymore.

      • Andy
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

        That’s because there are no opportunities from Brexit. Eventually you’ll figure it out.

        • NickC
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          Andy, There are lots of opportunities from Brexit. Being able to vote for and remove our own government is the main one. Having sensible British farming and fishery policies rather than the odious EU CAP and CFP are two more. Being able to have our own trade policy rather than the failed CCP, CU, SM is another. Independence is refreshing.

    • Mitchel
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      There’s a fascinating article in the FT on the revolution in tax collection systems going on in Russia:”Russia’s role in producing the tax man of the future”:-

      “This is the future of tax administration-digital,realtime and with no tax returns.The authorities receive the receipts of every transcation from St Petersburg to Vladivostok within 90 seconds.”

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

        Sound like nationalisation of everything or perhaps a new form of slavery in the making.

        • Mitchel
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 9:29 am | Permalink

          Well,they do have the stored-up experience of the Soviet central planning system where every non-consumer transaction was recorded(and,indeed,authorised) by the state bank.

      • ukretired123
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        That’s extremely interesting and Russia shows up Britain’s foot-dragging Public Sector who have failed to modernise around IT systems. In fact we should have been leading the world in this having Alan Turing invented programmable computers during WW2!
        What a waste with bloated Civil servants and HMRC who still hide behind a wall of excuses developed over 75 years instead.

      • Mark
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        Not sure how they register the crates of vodka as payment in kind.

    • Posted August 1, 2019 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Farming is in a different category to most other industries inasmuch as we need to eat. It’s true that we could import a lot more food from all over the world at fairly low cost but , is it wise to become over reliant on foreign supplies of what is a basic and vital necessity for all of us . We could have lost the war if we were unable to feed ourselves and how many people died while bringing us our food . Heaven forbid that there is ever another war but who can guarantee that such a situation vnever comes about again ! And of course , who would maintain our ” green and pleasant land ” ?

  7. Dominic
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    The NFU is determined to stop Brexit along with most established professional organisations in the UK. Their love of the status quo is renowned. Change is despised. I doubt that will change and I’m confident the NFU will even as I type be lobbying hard to prevent Brexit

    Bring in the Yanks to encourage innovation and change

  8. oldtimer
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    New Zealand has succeeded in reducing over time the subsidies it pays to farmers. The UK should pay attention to how this was achieved and apply the lessons learned to the extent they apply to UK circumstances. Like most other industries, the scope for a technological revolution applies to agriculture too. Some farmers are very active in this respect; other need encouragement to join them.

  9. The Prangwizard
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    And yet the government wants 1 million more trees. How do we use land for food if the land is given over to trees. The climate change fanatics decide policy and practice.

    • hefner, Esq.
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      A square of 1 ha (10000 m^2) with a tree every 10 m can include 100 trees. For 1 million trees one would need 10000 ha i.e., 100 km^2. Given that London occupies 1579 km^2, I don’t think planting 1 m trees in such conditions would be impossible. Could it be that it appears impossible for people still stuck with the imperial system?

  10. Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    I live in the Fens.
    It is a golden sea of corn at the moment. There are new strains, yes. There is a lot of it.
    Cows/sheep/pigs/poultry? You have to search for them. They are there, but not common.
    Flowers? Yup, to the north in Lincolnshire.
    Lots of farmers round here are diversifying into leisure and entertainment. Polytunnels stand empty or are used as sheds for storing stuff.
    This was once the place where apples, fruit and vegetables filled the Covent Garden stalls.

    The problem is that these farmers are outstanding businessmen on the whole. They see where the public is moving and go with the flow. But it takes a couple of years to adapt a farm doesn’t it. When Brexit happens, there has to be a break. I hope that during the adaptation period common sense will prevail.

  11. Dave Andrews
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Global food prices are too cheap for the UK to compete with in a level market. The only way UK farming can survive is with external tariff barriers and subsidies. Even then, we still need to import labour to do those jobs British people don’t want to do, and couldn’t support a family on the wages even if they were so inclined.
    How about we pay the landowners to keep the countryside looking pretty for the tourist industry? Would that not be more cost effective?

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

      Dave, if wages are too low then top them up. Surely its better than giving out handouts while people sit on their backsides? If they are earning something its less money for the taxpayer to find in benefits.

  12. formula57
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    If “…we can remove all tariffs on food we cannot produce for ourselves” then at long last Mr. Heath’s promise to “cut prices at a stroke” can be fulfilled!

  13. Everhopeful
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Why not just eat seasonally? ( govt soooo keen on green).
    In any event an unheated polytunnel can extend the season by a few months .
    Hotbeds are most effective and terribly green!!
    Encourage small local producers..they used to exist before whatever EU policies put them out of business. Before acres of glassshouses were left to rot and then demolished.
    Who needs cottonwooly tomatoes at Christmas anyway?
    And much so called produce from wherever is downright nasty..no wonder kids don’t like fresh stuff.
    Parsnip,swede,potatoes and sprouts. Easy to grow as long as you have the acreage.
    So liblabcon need to ease up on the destruction of the countryside if they want to feed us.
    Which just might mean controlling our borders if we still have any.

  14. Lifelogic
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Matt Ridley today in the Telegraph:-

    Escape the EU’s innovation-crushing rulebook. Deregulating the biotech industry will be better for our health, our economy and the environment.

    Indeed it surely will be.

  15. J Bush
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Well I am pleased Gove has been removed from Defra. His green blob ideas on growing more trees and 5% of t he land must be PG01 would only achieve less land to grow food.

    That aside, if this new government really wants to encourage farmers to grow more food, then the first thing they need to do is remove all the excessive and ever burgeoning bureaucracy and red tape in the RPA. Mountains of Guidances, some with over 50 updating issues each year. No-one has been able to explain why this is needed on a commodity, which unlike technology, is unchanging, namely land and animals!

    However, it does allow the hundreds of office based jobsworth with no experience of working the land, to spy on and harass those who do, in their attempt to justify their autocratic supercilious existence.

    Time for a long overdue cull while reducing the cost to the taxpayer.

  16. Everhopeful
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    It is to be hoped that these lovely plans for a liberated England aren’t just based on a rerun of the May fiasco.
    More apparent effort but in reality a ploy to destroy the Brexit Party ( fake opposition though it well might be).
    Then a shrug of the shoulders..I did my best but Parliament wouldn’t let me!

  17. Nick Chadburn
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    As a avid dog walker in my part of West Sussex, I see on a daily basis the under use of our farmlands with good pasture land neither being used for winter feed or grazing. This situation causes loss of good arable land & weed creep with the proliferation of fern & brambles. The ramifications of all this are for more learned people to decide on, but I ask all your subscribers Sir John including yourself when next in the countryside to observe whats going on with our Green & Pleasant land.

  18. bill brown
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Sir JR,

    this is about being competitive and being able to deliver on time.

    Your propositions sound sensible and good, but don’t you think our farmers and industry wold have provided the products, if, it could have been produced and supplied competitively already, with or without the EU and CAP?

  19. bigneil
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    So – -grow more of our own – -while building hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of houses on the same ground? Even round here houses are going up everywhere, destroying what was a beautiful area. Madness.

  20. GilesB
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Contrary to Project Fear claims about the impact of Brexit on sheep farmers, we actually import more sheep meat than we export.

    We export mainly carcasses and live animals and import cuts and joints.

    Preventing the export of live animals for slaughter and increasing processing capacity here would:
    + increase demand for U.K. sheep farmers
    + create jobs in meat processing
    + reduce the environmental impact of transport in both directions and
    + improve animal welfare

    • bill brown
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      GilesB

      I am not sure the Welsh sheep farmers feel the same way?

  21. Dan Earley
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Although I agree with the basic tenets of your arguments, the dangers that our farmers face does not necessarily come from a lack of demand from within the UK but from the fear of tariffs being imposed by the EU, effectively cutting off a very large part of UK farmers markets. I would hope that Boris’s administration are able to reform the sector of our economy that, together, can reform it for the better. This means transforming power and energy, preferably through fracking, that will reduce costs enormously and stop the proliferation of expensive and short term wind farms. A system of subsidising farmers to counter the effect of the loss of the CAP. This should hopefully encourage farmers to innovate more, grow different crops in different ways be it poly tunnels, larger greenhouses, multi-storey greenhouses, the use of waste-to-energy technologies and so on. It is by no means a simple answer but we seem to have a team who are up for it and about time too.

  22. Chris Dark
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Unlimited immigration demands we sacrifice the countryside to build endless numbers of homes.There has to be enough farming land available to provide food for all these extra millions. If people can get planning permission to cover fields with acres of solar panels, surely facilities to grow food ought not to be a problem? Personally I don’t buy foreign salad stuffs during the summer, I grow my own; ditto with vegetables. Similarly with meat, it’s the local farm shop for us and we know where the meat comes from. It would be nice if everyone in the country could do the same, but since there is so much insistence on uncontrolled population growth, it isn’t going to happen. Most people’s interest in gardening is, in any case, virtually zero; they could never feed themselves even if they tried.

    • sm
      Posted July 31, 2019 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      Millions of people live in properties that have no garden, Chris, nor even a window-box facility. Ditto, proximity to a farm shop is zero for those who live in cities.

  23. miami.mode
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Whilst fully aware that currency traders only make money when rates fluctuate, the fall in the pound might force us to reassess what we grow for ourselves and what we import.

  24. Dominic
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    We need technology to replace subsidies in the agriculture sector. When industry looks towards the taxpayer (subsidy) rather than profit (self sustaining) you can guarantee that failure as become an accepted part of their culture.

  25. Michael Keating
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Is the BBC a fifth column for the EU?

    • 'None of the above'.
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      Surprised that you need to ask, actually.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      Seems so. Also for endless climate alarmism and evermore taxation and regulation of everything.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      Michael – – I think many of us have shared similar views over a long period.

  26. jerry
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    But Sir John, nothing will change unless Govt changes, and I see nothing to suggest Boris is willing to make the necessary changes at DEFRA and other Depts, indeed he appears to be gold plating the current regime in some respects. 🙁

    Might I suggest that the abolition of DEFRA, replacing it with a revived but adapted MAFF(&E). thus putting food production and its safety first, farmers & growers have always considered the environment foremost, after all it is their livelihood. They do not need to be told, never mind instructed, how to do so by ‘the suits’ in Whitehall.

  27. acorn
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    JR, I take it you have never been given a ride on a GPS guided Tractor Sprayer, that controls spray levels to a map of a field! I have always considered the House of Lords (HoL) thinking to be two decades behind the rest of the population. Brexit has exposed the House of Commons as being the same!

    The UK should go unicameral by shutting down the HoL and putting eight years as the maximum MP tenure.

    Reply That us the kind of technology I am writing about, but it is not available yet on a lot of our farms.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Eight? – – GEs every 5 years counts for something if the local association wants to replace their standing MP, and Central Office supports it.

    • hefner, Esq.
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      GPS-guided Tractor Sprayer can adjust spraying not only to a topographical map of a field but if connected to a map also indicating soil types (in terms of sand, silt, clay, loam fractions) it can even vary the mix of fertilizers being spread. Such maps have been established at increasing spatial accuracy from various multi-channel radiometers on satellites over the last ten years.
      A cousin twice removed from my wife has such a tractor in … Northern France.

      • libertarian
        Posted August 1, 2019 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        Hefner acorn

        British software company Agricision sells an agricultural GPS system that partners an easy-to-use iOS app with a revolutionary wireless guidance module. You dont need a new tractor you just need an iPhone lightbar & App costs £675 . The power of UK digital tech

  28. ChrisS
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    All good ideas but the Remain forces in the media are turning up the volume by the day.

    This morning on the BBC it’s all about Welsh farmers threatening civil unrest. When what was meant by civil unrest was finally revealed, they are talking about a few farmers blocking roads with their £100,000 tractors. Well, last time I was in rural Wales, the roads were almost bereft of traffic so that will have a big effect, won’t it ?

    Their main concern seems to be about the possibilities of large tariffs being imposed by the EU on sheep meat being exported to the 27 from the UK and the assumed risk to the £300m subsidy Welsh Farmers get from the CAP.

    Well, if the EU insists on applying tariffs on agricultural products, that will work both ways and the 27 will have a lot more to lose than we do, given the huge trade surplus Dutch, French, German, Spanish, Italian farmers and wine-makers have with the UK.

    I predict that this will result in much more effective industrial action in many parts of the EU. In particular, French farmers, no strangers to militant action, of course, will again be dumping trailer loads of manure outside Macron’s front door. Poetic justice for this latter-day Napoleon.

    As for the £300m subsidy, nobody bothered to remind the farmers’ representatives that the £300m is actually our money sent to Brussels and then sent back here disguised as a generous gift from the supposedly benevolent EU. Ridiculously selective reporting.

  29. AlmostDead
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    No to protectionism, it only distorts trade. Zero tariffs on everything. We can buy from the US, no need to build up our own capabilities

    • NickC
      Posted July 31, 2019 at 12:26 am | Permalink

      Almostdead, Not really. Zero tariffs on the things we cannot produce here make sense. But low tariffs on imports which we can make here encourages British businesses, which we sorely need to do.

      • AlmostDead
        Posted August 1, 2019 at 12:53 am | Permalink

        No it only makes things more expensive

        • NickC
          Posted August 1, 2019 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

          Almostdead, It may make some things slightly more expensive, but the generally lower than EU tariffs will make things overall less expensive. There are other savings involved in a modicum of protection: higher domestic employment, shorter and safer supply lines, better control of animal, food, and product standards, and so on, all of which contributes to higher standards, whole-life efficiency and lowest cost.

          • AlmostDead
            Posted August 2, 2019 at 12:17 am | Permalink

            What a load of crap. UK protectionism is the same as EU protectionism, it only makes the country poorer, less productive and less innovative. Higher domestic employment comes from the development of new businesses after less efficient businesses fail. Creative destruction. Trying to protect business via protectionism only makes them weaker on the world market. Non-tariff barriers like animal, food and product standards need to be eliminated, our food market should be open to the world including food from China, USA and Africa. Clear labelling identifying origin would allow consumers to make a choice. Your choices would make the UK a mini-EU. Instead fully embrace free trade. Drop all tariffs to zero, reduce/eliminate regulation, eliminate all business tax and embrace smaller government. That’s a real Conservative agenda.

  30. Richard1
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Excellent article by Matt Ridley in today’s telegraph on the need to liberate the biotech sector through deregulation post Brexit. He points out that 20 years ago, prior to suffocating EU laws, the UK was a world leader in biotech for agriculture. Perhaps there should be some standing enquiry to look into all those laws and regs which have been handed to us by the EU over the years and which we will now be free to remove of reform on a continuing basis. If we are going to proceed with Brexit we need to take advantages of its opportunities.

  31. Rien Huizer
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    It appears that you are advocating a mercantilist agenda for farm products, That would be slightly at odds with US trade negotiators. Also: the EU countries you mention (especially The Netherlands and Denmark) are highly specialized and technologically advanced in these areas, combining scale, consistency and speed plus excellent management and finance. That does not apply to all forms of agriculture and animal husbandry in those countries but for it does for the pig and poultry firms in NW Europe (the area of high productivity covers basically all of the NW European lowlands), the ghreenhouse growers in Holland and Belgium. I reckon that the fresh food from producers in Ireland and the countries you mention will turn out to be competitive with US imports but not for all products. Dutch flowers (grown in many countries but distributed from Holland) sell as well in Japan as in Britain or the US, facing widely differing trade barriers. Dutch fresh produce will continue to be preferred by UK supermarkets for reliability and consistency. It takes a long time to replicate what the Dutch market gardeners have built up over the years and even if the UK public is incentivise d to prefer Uk (I hesitate to say local because it is more expensive to ship a reefer container (rail, road, sea) from Kent to York than from Rotterdam. Tariffs will not make a big difference. It would of course be different if food standards were “weaponized” to boost import substitution.

    Anyway, from my own experience, US regulators (and the trade negotiators that flank them) are very well versed in detecting unfair trade practices among their prospective partners. For goods as well as services. Import substitution was a staple of Latin American political economy until the US started to interfere in the financial environment as well as domstic politics in those countries. In fact, a protectionist (import substituting through government intervention) UK would face the same scrutiny as Mr Corbyn’s beloved Venezuela.

  32. Know-Dice
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    There seems to be a fuss about Welsh Beef and Lamb exports.

    Boris is having a big advertising spree, maybe that should include buying British produced produce and also targetting home consumption of Welsh produce rather than imported…

    • 'None of the above'.
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      Well said!

      Why, may I ask, aren’t intelligent Welsh Farmers postulating positive ideas like increasing sales in the UK and the rest of the World, rather than threatening to slaughter thousands of breeding Ewes?

  33. Dominic
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I am becoming suspicious, as is my way, of Johnson’s strategy. By ramping up the preparations for Brexit (which I believe are bogus) he’s playing us for fools. I believe these preparations are a smokescreen behind which are plans to align (regulatory, tax policy, judicial and constitution) the UK in some way (a watered down version of the appalling WA) with the EU.

    It is incumbent on Tory Eurosceptics and the BP to expose any deviation from our exit with a sleight of hand

    • mickc
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      You may well be right. I, too, am very sceptical.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      But at least it lays to rest the notion that the Tories should support a second referendum, even if they are only acting the part now.

      They now acknowledge the mood music they need to play in order to survive and that they cannot even beat Corbyn if they insist on continuity Hammond/Remain.

    • Peter
      Posted July 31, 2019 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Boris Johnson said what he needed to say to become Prime Minister.

      Now that he’s on the inside, I wonder if he’s learning a lot more about what the reality of a no-deal Brexit would entail, and that it’s one of those things that easy to promise but impossible to deliver.

  34. Christine
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    When I shop I try to buy British first, commonwealth countries second, Spanish third and the rest of the EU countries last.

    I’m always pleasantly surprised to see how much UK produced food is available.

    I was shocked last month though to see onions from New Zealand.

    Consumers have become used to having seasonal meat and vegetables all year round. This means importing it from other parts of the world. So increasing UK production will only mean a glut at certain times of the year and still a requirement to import out of season.

    We need joined up thinking between the food producers and the supermarkets. Increasing UK production isn’t always the right answer.

  35. James Bertram
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the article on Agriculture – most interesting, and I agree with much of it.

    I’ve written a fair amount on Agriculture over the last few days, and I’ll try not to repeat myself.
    I agree very much that we should reduce food miles wherever possible, and buy local; and that we should grow as much of our produce as we can on our good agricultural land (but rewild uneconomic marginal land). We should not produce surplus for export (lamb) but divert resources to substitute imports. Given our population ratio to productive land, we will always need to import – and there is nothing wrong with that as long as our standards are not compromised, and that goods are clearly labelled. If an overseas farmer can produce to the same standard (including animal welfare), transport the goods, and still undercut our farmer fairly and without subsidy, then he deserves our business and our markets should be open to him.

    However, I feel a more holistic approach is needed. Agricultural policy needs to align with policies on Animal Welfare, the natural environment, and food and food-education policy; along with reducing the cost of land, increasing farm employment, educating the consumer to pay a fair price for food and eat less meat, and not undercutting our production with lower standard imports.

    And I differ on your views on use of subsidy. I think farms need to be run without subsidy in the long term, and without tariffs and taxes. I would favour small farms with subsidy and set a limit as to acreage that can receive subsidy, and encourage working with natural processes (organic and low-input, set-aside, rewilding of less productive land, lower land prices, low barrier to entry, increased employment etcetera) rather than heavy investment in high-tec solutions, high land prices, big farms and monocultures that destroy nature and create wastelands (as does much industrial fishing of the sea).
    Extending the growing seasons (using technology and our warming climate) makes sense whatever the farming system you use.

    Just some thoughts.

  36. tim
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Vauxhall set to close UK factory if no-deal Brexit happens, boss hints · UK Politics.
    What is the new government goint to do about these ridiculous scare stories by the British Brasinwashing council.
    Time to have a referendum, pay the licence fee or not to pay

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      No need for a referendum on that, as 3 million non-payers have already discovered.

  37. a-tracy
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Years ago I visited Epcot Centre and they had a Living Land ride which must have been built over 30 years ago extolling the benefits of aquaponics and hydroponics, then recently I started seeing tweets about this method of farming combined with fish farming using the same reprocessed water with no need for pesticides. I wondered if we hadn’t gone down this route because we are protecting land-based farming?

  38. noCigar
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    You paint a lovely picture Sir- almost idyllic- but there are a few dark clouds

    We can forget about salads and freshly cut flowers- these are luxury items that we will not need with the new order.

    secondly- I’m not convinced by your argument- for instance, how will we convince the farmers to get out of their ‘mercs’ and into the fields to snag turnips, sort potatoes etc and to do it all without the CAP payments?

    Then what about the other agricultural labour needed? with the disappearance of East European foreigners, does anyone seriously think that young homegrown Brits are going to get out of bed in sufficient numbers, to go into cold, early morning grubby fields, to pick fruit, sort it and get it to market on time- am afraid noCigar with this one

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      That’s exactly what they did until 20 years ago.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        The complexity of benefits system made it difficult for British people to do seasonal work – but they did do it, prepared to clamber into mini buses at 4am.

    • NickC
      Posted July 31, 2019 at 12:36 am | Permalink

      Nocigar, You trot out Remain myths and lies as though we will still believe them. And by the way my son and daughter-in-law did daily 15 hour shifts lambing this season – so yes Brits do get out of bed in sufficient numbers. Your sneers don’t work any more.

  39. John Probert
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Smaller farms tend to produce higher quality food
    Looking after our soil gives higher levels of minerals & vitamins
    which improves health
    This is a great opportunity to support our Farming community which will
    benefit us all in many ways

    • Fred H
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      JP…..’Smaller farms tend to produce higher quality food’.

      Evidence?

      • John Probert
        Posted July 31, 2019 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        If you are interested in high quality food you will not find it in many
        of the large supermarkets even if you pay more
        Buying from your local butcher can provide organic meat & eggs which
        usually come from smaller farms in Wales
        The animals have been fed on a more balanced diet not just grain
        Which means your food will have more nutriants
        Don’t take my word for it or anyone else
        Try it for 3 months you will feel the benefit
        JP

        • Fred H
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 10:26 am | Permalink

          oh! we are into the organic propaganda.

          • John Probert
            Posted July 31, 2019 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

            @ Fred H if you have not got anything intelligent to
            contribute don’t waste my time

      • hefner, Esq.
        Posted July 31, 2019 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        Evidence to the contrary?

  40. Lorna
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Poly tunnels scattered over the countryside of Spain is an abomination ! Let us not go down that route
    The use of greenhouses now being used in U.K. to grow vegetables especially tomatoes is the way forward We now produce 35% of our own tomatoes !
    Undoubtedly we can produce more .UK cheese making has really developed in the West Country .There are now nearly 200 varieties of U.K. cheeses .The Devon Brie is excellent !
    Why should we import pork while an excess of lamb is now a problem ?
    Yes Sir John The industry needs to adopt new and better farming methods .The Dyson farm in Wiltshire shows how modern technology can be harnessed to,improve yields
    Please can we have some more of our great UK apples ? The destruction of UK orchards in favour of tasteless imported fruit was a backward step indeed
    Time to reset !

  41. BillM
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I have noticed in our local supermarkets that there is now a preponderance of Britsh sourced produce. Checkout Lidl, Aldi, Tesco and Morrisons, for starters.
    It can only get better once we are FREE of the EU’s CAP, CFP and other such business debilitating bureaucratic nightmares.
    Let’s promote more Britons living off of our own land rather than the Continentals living off of us.

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. Perhaps it is time to resurrect the, “I’m Backing Britain.” campaign.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 31, 2019 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      as long as it is ‘produced’ in Britain and not just labelled as ‘sourced’ by British companies.

  42. stred
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    The DT has reported that farmers will suffer if we are unable to set tariffs because some MPs will refuse to pass the necessary legislation. The present tariff schedule is temporary. Someone should explain to them that, if they do not allow legislation to make WTO trading work, they will be held responsible by the Brexit Party at the forthcoming election. If Boris, as seems the case, thinks he is going to pass the WA colonial treaty using Labour votes and treacherous Tories, he will find his majority disappears. Then the Tory and Labour shysters will not be able to sit pretty for another 3 years and hope that the electors are stupid and forgetful.

  43. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    The key policy decisions are (a) what proportion of our food consumption do we need to be home grown so that we are reasonably feed ourselves if war breaks out and (b) how do we achieve our target % share – by tariffs, quotas or subsidies? My inclination is to use tariffs (subject to WTO rules except where we have trade agreements) rather than quotas or subsidies.

    For the proportion of our food not produced at home, we should use the cheapest safe sources of supply.

    • forthurst
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Before we joined the EU, we produced three quarters of our food. We had a cheap food policy based upon imports from the Commonwealth together with support for our own farmers so that their production was not undermined by food produced by lower costs farms abroad. Of course it goes without saying that our farmers were more efficient than the French.

      We do need to adopt a cheap food policy again so our farmers must have price support as well as being provided with investment in a sector which has been deliberately deprecated by the French owned CAP to enable an increase in their own market share.

      It would be great if we could buy Canadian hard wheat again so that our loaves, instead of being made of French wheat and soya and tasting disgusting, could be returned to the wholesome and delicious product they once were.

      • margaret howard
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        forthurst

        “Before we joined the EU, we produced three quarters of our food. ”

        Yes, I remember it well. Nothing but root vegetables for months on end. Bitter tasting cucumbers, limp lettuces, shriveled apples and the many seasonal fruits too expensive for the average family.

        As for bread the only variety to buy was while sliced, the choice being medium, thin or toast doorstops. I had to put a special order in to get a brown wholemeal loaf which my grocer regarded with great suspicion.

        I still remember the joy when ‘exotic’ fruit and veg from Spain made an appearance after we joined the EU. And proper camembert and Yoghurt which had only been available before in expensive delicatessens. We could finally stop travelling to France to stock up with the food we liked.

        I live in a farming area and the reason our farmers don’t produce food we import now is that they are reluctant to invest in greenhouses etc and prefer to grow stuff like wheat, oil seed rape etc because it is easier to produce and less labour intensive. You don’t see people in the fields helping with the harvest, just monster machines – prairie country we call it.

        • sm
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 6:32 am | Permalink

          Ms Howard, I don’t know where you lived before 1971, but we lived in a modest London suburb (on a modest income) and I certainly don’t recall such an awful and limited menu of available food!

        • NickC
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

          Anyone who thinks like you, Margaret, that the ghastly French Golden Delicious apple (“le squelch”!!) was better than our Cox’s, Worcester’s, Bramley’s, and Granny Smith’s, is beyond redemption. Just another set of Remain lies. It gets wearisome.

        • Fred H
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 10:34 am | Permalink

          The Chorleywood cottonwool White sliced Loaf……ugh! It sadly saw off the Hovis for most people. Even today white tends to be bland, but lasts longer. Preservatives of course.

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted July 31, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          Even if you are right about our pre-EU diet, there is no reason why we would have to return to it. You could still buy European produce if you wanted to. Nevertheless, I think you could get interesting – and value for money – food from non-EU countries.

          I can remember food prices pre and post our accession to the EU. There was a massive surge in prices. Because hyper inflation counted for much of it, there was a tendency to neglect the fact that European food was expensive.

  44. stred
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I dislike Britsh lamb because it tends to be full of fat. NZ is much better, as it is mainly grass-fed, whilst ours are given expensive fodder. It would be better to pay the hill farmers to change to cattle and encourage rabbits to keep the grass down, perhaps planting some coppice and running a B and B.
    The new Beyond and Impossible artificial meats are proving very popular in the US and bigger meat companies are getting in on the act according to the DT. Maybe we won’t need so much meat in the future and will put up polytunnels growing the ingredients for these new meats instead. The male cattle could be put on the moors for a year and given barns during bad weather.
    While on holiday in Spain, we came across a menu translated into English using google. One delightful dish was called ‘ Fat old cow fillet’. They seem to like fat so why not export the fat animal cuts after slaughter?

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

      “…and encourage rabbits to keep the grass down,”

      Do they do this at gunpoint or do they do it with the odd carrot as a reward ? I find that reward often works better than punishment.

  45. Mark
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    It would be a very good idea if we ditched the requirements for biofuels in motor fuels. These fuels really aren’t green anyway, and they push up food costs, as well as lowering fuel mileage and damaging engines, pumps and fuel lines.

    • Stred
      Posted July 31, 2019 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      Gummer and his team are proposing to use all of the biofuels for generation and capture the CO2 in order to balance out aviation fuels. This will mean even more land taken for biofuels. We have to use electric cars and hydrogen lorries to make this work.

  46. Rob
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Too many old farmers using traditional methods and living off subsidies. Younger, efficient farmers need to be helped to take over the farms. Farm land is also in a valuation bubble given the inheritance tax break.

    https://www.dw.com/en/could-hi-tech-netherlands-style-farming-feed-the-world/a-47105412

    If you used S106 tax to take away the windfall for farmers next to towns getting planning persmission, you could use that S106 cash to pay for this and for affordable housing.

  47. glen cullen
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Let market forces rule….abolish all subsidies

  48. acorn
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    You will not have noticed the extent of the drop in status of the UK globally since the Brexit referendum. The two primary indicators of a nation’s global status are (a) its currency exchange rate and (b) its passport desirability by foreigners.

    From voxeurop.euen/2019/freedom-movement: “One of the most striking aspects of the latest data is the abrupt descent of the United Kingdom. After all, it was only back in 2015 when the UK topped ranking. Sally Everett, professor of Business Education at King’s College London, has written about this topic in The Conversation.

    EDJNet asked Everett for her interpretation of the data: “The fall in the UK’s global passport rankings is hardly a surprise given Brexit”, she said. Furthermore, “concerns will only intensify now that Boris Johnson is Prime Minister. Data reflects the inevitable loss of value and status (and power) of the UK passport in terms of its reputation in a global travel market. Brexit will dramatically weaken (and already is weakening) the strength and status of a UK passport and will compromise the current freedoms enjoyed by UK passport holders”. Crucially, “the upsurge in people seeking Irish passports and other dual nationality travel documents illustrates the concerns people had about reduced levels of mobility for UK citizens following Brexit and the rankings are seeing this play out”.

    • NickC
      Posted July 31, 2019 at 12:45 am | Permalink

      Acorn, What a long diatribe! It could be rather more economically summarised thus: “give up your freedom for the promise of a mess of pottage”. No thanks, keep your artificial empire.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 31, 2019 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      acorn. ‘value and status (and power) of the UK passport’.

      Eh? ..if it gives me nationality acceptance when I venture abroad, that’s all I need.

  49. Bitterend
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Don’t know why Boris is talking with Varadkar, there’s nothing Varadkar can do- Boris’s barney is with Barnier and the EU. Also don’t think the WA can be reopened anyway as we are too near 31st Oct and they are all on hols- so there’s little point in Boris threatening- because nobody is listening- he should just do it- and maybe talks can resume later. My immediate problem is the Pound exchange rate as I might have to cancel my hol plans

    • agricola
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Personally I cannot understand why there is any talk of reopening the WA. It was toxic and should remain interned with a stake thriough it.

      For holidays there are options in Europe and many other places beyond. The most expensive place to holiday is usually the UK.

    • Mark
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      According to Article 50, negotiating guidelines are set by the EU Council, not by its appointed negotiator. Not much point in talking to the monkey when you need to speak to the 27 organ grinders.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 31, 2019 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        Ha Ha.

  50. Norman
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Well done Boris for getting out to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
    I read that the Welsh farmers are giving you a hard time, especially over sheep.
    Whilst I have much sympathy for the difficulties farmers habitually face, IMO the hard truth is that many have been bought by EU subsidies. This is especially so in Wales.
    The uplands are best suited to extensive (i.e. non-intensive) livestock farming (beef cattle and sheep). A large proportion of the sheep are Halal slaughtered (which may include pre-stunning), and are sold on the hook into France, where there is of course a large Muslim population. I despair at those who say these farmers should produce other foods – let them try it on rocky, cold, upland soils! Also, the stock from the hills bring fertility to crop- growing lowland soils. Wool was once a source of wealth to Britain, it’s much less so today, due to man-made fibres.
    The bottom line is that our extensively produced lamb and beef needs much better marketing here at home, as well as overseas. The spurious, hypocritical and vicious attack from vegan/climate campaigners towards livestock farmers also needs to be much more actively countered – the BBC are the enemy in this regard!

    • Norman
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      The following is a quote from my own hand, reflecting on my experiences as a vet. I cite this to show that what I have written above is in no way meant to undermine our farmers, especially the smaller family enterprises, who are the backbone of rural life and culture.
      “Like other men, farmers aren’t perfect. But I believe they should be highly honoured and respected… without them we should starve! Their skills are passed down through the generations. They work hard, and against many odds. They are sometimes isolated and feel everything is against them. They keep going when others would give up. Even when tragedy strikes, there are all the animals to feed. Their struggle for freedom on the land is also our struggle. No wonder I came to love them!”

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

        Well said.

  51. ferdinand
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    We could take greater advantage of more CO2 by pumping it into polytunnels as they already do in Europe, and may also do here in some places. Now we know that CO2 is in short supply for plant life there should be no limit to volume. We will have to repeal the Climate Change Act to deal with that but the result will be smaller energy bills.

  52. Piet
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Just looking at the reports of Boris visit today to look at Welsh agriculture- I don’t think the Welsh are too convinced- neither do I think your piece today will make much of an impact. So Boris better grow up, and soon, the clock is ticking and there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that the EU Leaders are going to change their minds- because the way they see it if they agree to make changes for the UK then with Italy Hungary etc looking on, these countries would want the same and that would be the end. Therefore all of these threats from Boris and trying to put the onus on the EU for change is not going to work. The EU say- leave with a deal, the WA, or leave without a deal- up to you

    • mancunius
      Posted July 31, 2019 at 12:08 am | Permalink

      But we don’t want the EU leaders to ‘change their minds’: Boris’s strategy is to ensure they remain stubborn and intransigent, and he is finding that predictably easy so far. It will make our leaving the EU without more timewasting discussion of the WA much simpler. It won’t ever be signed, and the EU is now waking up to that rather obvious fact.
      They probably won’t have even the instinct for self-preservation to sign up to a simple one-page GATT XXIV agreement preserving their trade advantage. Their idiocy is their lookout, not ours. On WTO tariffs, and with energetically pursued new trade agreements with non-EU countries, we shall forge ahead.
      They will not. After our non-deal brexit, EU will find that assisting the (as a result of a no-deal brexit virtually bankrupt) RoI as well as propping up the eurozone banks will be prohibitively expensive for Germany, which will pull out, hastening the collapse of the centralised, dinosaur EC politburo: a consummation devoutly to be wished. They can turn the Berlaymont into a Museum of Imperial Hubris.

    • NickC
      Posted July 31, 2019 at 12:50 am | Permalink

      Piet, Theresa May’s dWA is not a trade deal, and it is not leaving the EU. Have you considered asking your citizens instead of relying on the whims of your great Leaders?

  53. Jiminyjim
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    We’ve had no contribution to this debate from ‘the usual suspects’. I wonder why? Liberal, metropolitan, white, middle class so-called ‘elites’ in other words those who consider themselves to be elite. Andy and Margaret H, you are monstrously out of touch with the real world where people have to graft to make a living. Go and see and speak to people; you’re living in a totally false bubble. This will become obvious to you only when it’s too late.

    • Andy
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      My comments were deleted. Lamb farmers and cheese makers are apparently too difficult for Brexiteers to deal with.

  54. margaret
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Yes must agree that creative management and an impetus which says ‘we can’ is needed.I notice that Boris was in Wales. Farmers are concerned about the export of lamb to the EU and the possible tariffs which may be imposed . Personally I am not too bothered about meat; like Margaret Howard has previously commented, all those things which have a face make me feel cruel and I find these products difficult to eat. There again, fish and chicken without the live references , I find acceptable. Many people have changed to this sort of diet farmers should take advantage of this.It must be difficult for those who for generations have been farmers of one type or another and now need to change.

    • margaret
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      diet. Farmers………..

  55. Dennis
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    There are more than five months left in the year, but on Monday humankind had already burned through the planet’s ecological resource budget for 2019.

    It’s the earliest the date—known as Earth Overshoot Day—has ever come, the Global Footprint Network, which tracks the metric, said in a statement.

    • NickC
      Posted July 31, 2019 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      Dennis, More of your CAGW hoax?

  56. Paul H
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    In the meantime Johnson is quietly shifting expectations so that although we “leave”, we will be tied into SM and CU rules for “up to” (i.e. at least) two more years – forking out more money – until such time as the EU deigns to give us a deal. The fix is already in – the establishment is determined to wear us down until at some propitious moment it can persuade us that Brexit is not worthwhile and we should all just stay/re-enter. All the time Johnson is busily shifting the weight of public opinion by opening the flood gates of immigration and proposing an (illegal) amnesty for those already here.

    It seems that all of Johnson’s rhetoric is mainly for public consumption. Never trust a Tory, my university friends kept taunting me. How right they were.

    • NickC
      Posted July 31, 2019 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Paul H, You are right. Only a few days in and Boris has already capitulated. Another two years of being in the EU (and then another, and another) is not acceptable. What part of Leave don’t these bastards understand?

  57. APL
    Posted July 31, 2019 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    JR: “Let’s transform UK agriculture ”

    I would propose that many of the problems for British agriculture are a driect result of government interference during World War 1 and the failure to remove the government controls introduced then, since.

    Its the reason, for example, the British swine flock is so susceptible to foot and mouth, in 1914 ( or there abouts ) the British government selected one strain of swine because it fattened quickly and produced a lot of pork, that was the only animal farmers could rear, the result the whole heard were susceptible to infection and contagion.

    If you want to do something good for British farming, you’ll get the government out of the industry altogether.

  58. libertarian
    Posted July 31, 2019 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    PvL and others

    A bit of googling elicited this

    We DO grow vast amounts of salad & vegetables . We do produce lots of meat, especially lamb . We export most of it and then import lots more from around the world

    The reasons cited by the farming industry and trade associations are as follows

    1) Seasonality

    2) International pricing

    3) retailer/consumer choices

    4) historic contractual connections

    5) In the case of lamb we export live sheep to the EU but import frozen New Zealand lamb which has profound effects on end consumer pricing

  59. BR
    Posted July 31, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    “Low value vegetables should not be cheaper when hauled hundreds of miles from Spain.”

    Excusing the pun, what are the root causes of this anomaly?

    Are British producers simply being greedy and charging too much for their produce or are the cots lower in Spain? It seems unlikely, since they have the same access to cheap labour.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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