Museum farming

When Owen Paterson set out how we can use our new freedoms out of the EU to have a better environment and a stronger farming industry, he majored  his remarks on the need for innovation.

He characterised the Common Agricultural Policy as one based on protectionism to keep us in a museum of out of date  farming practices.  He drew attention to how the ban on neo nics had led to a fall in rape seed production in the EU, making us more dependent on imports from the Ukraine which uses neo nics. He made the case for selective gene editing , and argued that gm progress is necessary. It is after all a version of selective breeding which has characterised past agricultural progress inside the EU, done with more precision, understanding  and speed.

He reminded us of the damage done to our landscape by EU inspired policies of abandoning pumps and refusing to dredge ditches and water courses, leading to extensive flooding. Owen himself made an effective case when in government to revert to proven water management techniques with modern high capacity pumps and dredgers to free the Somerset levels of excessive water. He studied how the Fens were still well drained and usually kept out of flooding despite being very low lying, and how the EU/Environmental Agency system   abandoned this approach elsewhere to the detriment of residents and farmers.

Agriculture offers great scope for improvement as we leave the EU. We have a huge food deficit running at more than £20bn a year. We are made to put high tariffs on important food items from outside the EU. Setting our own policy should produce more home grown food and lower overall prices for consumers. we will impose lower tariffs than the EU but will impose them on the whole world once we have left.

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  1. Ian Wilson
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Notably one area which has been little affected by flooding this year was the Somerset Levels, where Owen Paterson did such a superb job resolving the problem, only to be sacked by David Cameron, perhaps abetted by the Prime Minister’s Greenpeace activist wife.

    Why hasn’t Mr Paterson been called back to a senior position to resolve the flooding issues this year? His continued exclusion from Cabinet (and yours) diminishes my already low respect for the Conservative Party. Time for a knighthood for Owen Paterson? He would be a far more worthy recipient than Ed Davey.

    • BOF
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Now we have a new PM with a green activist partner, alledgedly.

    • ian terry
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Ian Wilson

      Totally in agreement with you Ian especially the last two sentences.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      I think the EU tried to flood Holland but they recieved short shrift.
      And we have clowns advising the government that we should import all our food.
      We really need to clean out the stables.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        You voted them into the stables.

      • margaret howard
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        You think? Why should they want to destroy a country? Complete tosh.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 9, 2020 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

          It is inaction and incompetence.
          It isn’t deliberate.
          But the EU being obsessed with climate change decided that no action to fight against rising sea levels should be allowed.
          And our Environmental Agency agreed.

          It is as if they in some demented odd way wanted to prove to us peasants that seas were rising.
          Look here..floods..told you so..its all your fault.

          Fortunately the Dutch just ignored the EU and continued on their policy of engineering a solution to rising sea levels.
          And they did it.

          Unlike for example the people in Fairbourne in North Wales wher the Environmental Agency and Welsh Government refuses to do any quite simple and straightforward work to save their community.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Well, the regulations relating to management of waterways have not yet changed.

      So if the position could be, and has been improved before the recent heavy rains, then obviously it could always have been bettered, and the European Union was never anything to do with it.

      Strikes me that the Government simply didn’t want to spend the money, and then blamed the European Union for “making” them not spend it.

      Almost all general directives are premised on “where reasonably possible”, and that would mean continuing with flood prevention measures if necessary.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

        Twenty years of no proper maintenance work.
        The Somerset Levels scandal showed up the inadequacies of the policies of the Environment Agency.

        The EA is well funded but chooses to spend on other priorities.

        The EU was a keen follower of the EU 2000 Water Directive.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 9, 2020 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

          Typo…last sentence…The EA was…

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 10, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

            Yes, unnecessarily rigidly so.

            There was no absolute compulsion on the various specifics.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 10, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

            They decided that was their interpretation of the directive.
            And they applied that policy with vigour for 20 years.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 10, 2020 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

            No one at the European Union made them do that.

          • a-tracy
            Posted March 11, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

            If this wasn’t a directive from the EU then Panorama or a similar BBC program needs to investigate this and get our Environmental Agency to answer your accusations that they didn’t have to do what they did.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

            Well that’s debatable.
            We sign treaties we get directives from those treaties we are a law abiding country so we apply those directives.
            These directives state what must be done.
            You should be applauding the UK for following those directives.
            But this is classic of pro EU fans like yourself.
            Any good outcome…prise be to the EU
            And bad outcome…its the stupid fault of individual member nations

  2. Somerset Leveller
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    What tosh. Pumps, dredging – nothing whatsoever to do with the EU. If that is what Paterson has been telling you, he doesn’t know the first thing about it.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      No. You are wrong and he is right. EU Natura 2000 Strategy, interpreted by the Environment Agency and policed by Brussels. So to say the EU are “nothing whatsoever” to do with it is the real tosh here, they are at least partly responsible. I mean I get that you were disappointed by the Brexit vote but that’s no reason to pretend the EU was the source of only good things, they had a few failings too and agricultural strategy (for the UK) is one of them.

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        Too right Roy.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      You are wrong on this.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        But clearly it is not exclusively EU errors.

    • margaret howard
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Somerset Leveller

      “What tosh”

      Quite. When JR writes:

      “EU inspired policies of abandoning pumps and refusing to dredge ditches and water courses,”

      how has that affected countries like Holland with its superb record of flood control? Has the country disappeared beneath the sea because of ‘EU inspired’ policies? Or is that just yet more anti EU hyperbole?

      • Edward2
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        Their defences were built many decades ago is the simple answer.

        • Peter van LEEUWEN
          Posted March 10, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

          @Edward2: Not correct. The current floods (in Britain) are not because of sea level rising but of rivers overflowing (rain). Dutch defences against that were updated far more recently.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 10, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

            You are mixing up two separate arguments.
            Holland has sea defences, yes I know.
            Their defences were built decades ago and are properly managed and maintained.

            The UK has increased recent incidents of floods where more rainfall has met 20 years absence of maintenance action due to a strict adherence to the EU water directive of 2000 by the Environmental Agency.

          • Peter van LEEUWEN
            Posted March 10, 2020 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2: You don’t sem to understand: The Dutch have defences against rivers overflowing and they are far more recent and based on a new philosophy as well: “ruimte voor de rivier”. I’ve been surprised, visiting Keswick after a flood that Britain had not adopted that policy as well, as there would have been room for that in the Lake District.

          • a-tracy
            Posted March 11, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

            Peter, I think our Environment Agency has a lot of questions to answer and if I was in a high flood risk area I would start a campaign to get those answers. If the Dutch saw this problem ten years ago, after the EU directive and found ways to run off and divert overflowing rivers into parkland reservoirs giving more space for water and made other investments to stop these floods what have we been spending UK money on and why is it failing? Did the Netherlands get EU funding to help pay for this?

          • Edward2
            Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

            You failed to apply the EU Water Directive with sufficient strictness.
            You should tell the people responsible to report themselves to the EU for re training.

      • Robert Mcdonald
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        The difference clearly is the Dutch equivalent of our civil service employs some staff with common sense and knowledge. A big improvement on our CS who we see being arrogant and bigoted, epitomised by the likes of Rayman.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      Read the EU’s “advice” on water management.
      Not only did the EU direct how water should be managed ( for the sole benefit of wildlife which I believe resulted in harm to some species) but they set out strict rules for the expensive disposal of silt…making it an unpopular activity.
      Now there are articles refuting all this…but look it up!

      • margaret howard
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        So how do countries like Holland manage to stay above water?

        • Edward2
          Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

          Their defences were built decades ago.

    • ukretired123
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      And pray tell us what do you know ???

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Interesting blog from the Adam Smith Institute from 2015
      “That is the almost complete cessation of dredging of our rivers since we were required to accept the European Water Framework Directive (EWF) into UK law in 2000. Yet until then, for all of recorded history, it almost went without saying that a watercourse needed to be big enough to take any water that flowed into it, otherwise it would overflow and inundate the surrounding land and houses.”
      “But all this changed with the creation of the Environment Agency in 1997 and when we adopted the European Water Framework Directive in 2000. No longer were the authorities charged with a duty to prevent flooding. Instead, the emphasis shifted, in an astonishing reversal of policy….”

      “We’ve also a Dutch expert telling us that we should be changing what we do with rivers: When more than 1,800 people died in the wake of the 1953 North Sea flood in the Netherlands, the national reaction was: never again. The resulting Delta programme to close off the south-western river delta from the sea was so bold that its name became synonymous with dealing with a crisis.”

      Surely if the UK build homes in flood planes then man-made defences and solutions are required to divert, dredge and control water that can flood this land.

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        well said

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        So the UK EA adopted a silly interpretation of sensible guidance.

        That is not the fault of those issuing the guidance.

        • a-tracy
          Posted March 10, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

          So who at the Environment Agency gets held responsible Martin?

          Who loses their job for flooding people out of their homes, causing such devastation to these peoples businesses and lives and such a massive problem for our insurance industry.

          Can’t blame just one government here either 1997 was the Labour government for many years, I read below that a Conservative Minister tried to affect changes and did in Somerset that worked. Someone needs to get a grip and someone needs a proper investigation, we put our trust in these Agencies who as you said made a ‘silly interpretation’.

          Margaret howard keeps asking why didn’t it affect the Dutch, well by reading the papers on it they made changes well in advance of these EU rules coming into being.
          Why are people working in the public sector being held to account, we hear they are earning more than the Prime Minister.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 10, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          Yes the EA are mainly to blame
          A directive isn’t guidance.
          It is a written set of rules that member states should follow.

    • Stred
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      The conservation of river banks and insisting on disposal of dredging soil as a hazardous waste is EU policy. Most countries in the EU ignore it but the EA takes it as an order. The previous old dame who headed the EA said that she would like to put a limpet mine on the pumps and flood the field for wildlife by adding water.

      • margaret howard
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        No doubt they used the money they saved on giving their executives fat bonuses.

    • Matt
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      I bet the same people who stopped dredging voted to Remain though !

    • NickC
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Somerset L, The EU may not the the only direct culprit – the climate doom religion (fostered by the EU anyway) is another – but it is a major stumbling block. “The almost complete cessation of dredging of our rivers since we were required to accept the European Water Framework Directive (EWF) into UK law in 2000 …. [means that] no longer were the authorities charged with a duty to prevent flooding (Waller – Newcastle Journal, 2015).

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Prior to 1994 and the establishment of European Dredging Association (EuDA following the EU WATER FRAMEWORK DIRECTIVE 2000/60/E, WASTE FRAMEWORK DIR. 75/442/EEC + 91/156/EEC and HABITAT DIRECTIVE 92/43/EEC dredging was refereed to and indentified as a natural resource but following these EU directives it is identified as a waste material

      The resultant administration, risk assessments, testing, logistics and disposal of this waste material placed huge constraints on when and where dredging could occur and exponentially increased costs

      Prior to these directives the dredged material would be used to repair or increase the size of riverbanks locally

    • Grahame ASH
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      To SL – I assume with a title Somerset Leveller you know all about the situation.

      I would like to understand the reasons the Somerset levels didn’t flood this year despite the excessive rainfall. I was of the same opinion as Owen, but am happy to be corrected.

      I will be interested to discover why such remedies aren’t employed in the flooded regions of the UK.

      Many thanks

    • Edward2
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Read the EU Water Directive and get back to us.

      • bill brown
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        We have read it and it does not say what Sir JR is advocating or presenting as facts

        • Jiminyjim
          Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

          You have quite clearly NOT read it!

          • bill brown
            Posted March 10, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink


            Look further down and you will get all the facts as they have been presented factually

        • Edward2
          Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

          It makes the spoils from ditches and river banks hazardous waste.
          Its general strategy is a do nothing disturb nothing.
          Re wilding.
          Protecting wildlife habitats.

    • BillM
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Living close to the levels at one time I had read that it was the Department of the Environment to halted the dredging of the rivers to protected snails and voles. Never mind the thousands of other animals that died in those floods. Never mind the £20M that was spent by the agency on a natural bird park near to Bridge water.

      • turboterrier
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        it was the Department of the Environment to halted the dredging of the rivers to protected snails and voles.

        Time to open up the sluice gates and drain the swamp if you will forgive the comparison. But these civil servants are niether resonsible or accountable.

  3. Shirley M
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    You only need to look at the past milk and butter mountains and wine lakes to see how successfully farming has been managed. Now the EU pays farmers not to farm (in order to prevent new mountains) while we import food. All under the guise of ‘greenness’ of course.

    Farmers, like all businesses, will concentrate on what produces the best profit for the least effort and cost. If doing nothing pays, then they will do nothing.

    Meanwhile, good arable land (not poor quality grazing) is being covered in new housing. That type of ‘greenness’ can obviously be sacrificed on the altar of immigration, but it won’t help food production in the UK at all.

    Where is the logic to all this?

    • turboterrier
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Shirley M
      If doing nothing pays, they will do nothing.

      Exactly. “Planting” wind turbines, solar panels and trees.
      All overflowing with subsidies, paid by the levies on our bills

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        fully agree with your comments

    • jerry
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      @Shirley M; “good arable land (not poor quality grazing) is being covered in new housing. That type of ‘greenness’ can obviously be sacrificed on the altar of immigration, but it won’t help food production in the UK at all.”

      What utter tosh, from the late 1920s through to the mid 1970s saw whole swaths of good farmland built on but if anything our food production increased as farming methods improved, and in any case a quick check on Google earth-view still shows that the majority of the UK is still farm land and not a concreted over urban jungle as you would have us believe…

      The problem with UK food production has been EU policies that pay farmers to ‘set-aside’, the EU went from the sublime -paying to have far to much food being produced (hence the mountains and lakes) to the ridiculous -paying farmers not to produce a crop.

      As for immigration, have you bothered to ask yourself why some industries and sectors, such as the agriculture (and horticultural) sectors, are now so reliant on immigrant labour?

  4. agricola
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Well you have us all looking up neo nics, no doubt better than old kecs. That apart, you are fundamentally right, the CAP is a protectionist racket.

    The Somerset Levels, presumably due to a rapid reversion to tried drainage practice have not been a news item this year whereas other areas have been devastated. It is what happens when you return to good science and engineering practice and stop listening to the great unwashed led by pubescent schoolgirls.

    I cannot follow your arguement for imposing lower tariffs on imported food which our climate is unsuited to producing. We should apply zero tariffs to cane sugar and all tropical fruit for instance. We can already apply new techniques to extending the seasons of crops we can grow, strawberries and mange toute peas for instance, therebye reducing the need to import.

    It never ceases to surprise me that government has a capacity for ignoring the talent of people like Owen Paterson. It is not as if they are over endowed with alternatives.

    • agricola
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      For information I discover that Neonics are a pesticide, bad for bees.

    • ian terry
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink


      It never ceases to surprise me that government has a capacity for ignoring the talent of people like Owen Paterson. It is not as if they are over endowed with alternatives.

      You are not alone on this one. The alternatives do not exactly radiate the WOW factor.

      When you see some of the experience and knowledge condemned to the back benches it is enough to make you weep.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        Or indeed overlooking JR. But if you were right on say the ERM, the EU, climate alarmism or the economy under the last few conservative leaders you were banished. They only wanted tax, regulate, borrow and waste, pro EU, climate alarmist believers and daft socialists.

        It seems so far that Boris is still ignoring the MPs who are usually proved right.

        The BBC presenter just now on Politics Live. “We are not in the position that Italy is” no indeed we are not. But we will surely be in about 10 days time. There is not that much the government can do but they do not even seem to be doing that. We need to slow up the spread and get far more ICU/isolation/ventilation etc. beds made available across the country now!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

          Cancel almost everything else now please especially HS2, COP26 and the zero carbon lunacy and get on with this right now.

          Oh and do it so as to provide for everyone needing ICU facilities not just those in the Commons or the Lords (or hospital nearby). We so often have seen special tax rules, expenses rules, subsidised bars, restaurants and nurseries, tax free daily allowances, special pension arrangements and similar for MPs and Lords.

          It would be truly disgusting if they did it in this life and death matter.

        • Fedupsoutherner
          Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

          L/L people are apparently flying into Gatwick from Milan and not being checked.

    • Stred
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      There is a recent article on how Owen Paterson was sacked but had time to set up local management which pushes the EA into doing something sensible like switching the pumps on when it’s raining a lot. They also built a barrier which lets the water into the sea at low tide. And guess what, it worked and while the places with habitats for frogs and voles flooded, the Levels didn’t. Obviously, he’s too old and not green enough to be trusted by the new breed of envirotory. It’s on notalotofpeopleknowthat.

  5. BeebTax
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    We have an opportunity but the danger is we will not take it.

    I was involved in flooding and coastal erosion issues, including being on the committee overseeing expenditure by the Environment Agency on these matters in one UK region. Time and again I saw that we Brits had “gold plated” EU environmental legislation, creating tougher, less flexible policies than those instituted by other EU countries who were under the same legislation as us.

    For example, In France and elsewhere they dredged and cleared their ditches; here we merely cut the reeds at a time deemed less harmful to wildlife and left the cut material on the banks “for the benefit” of wildlife (no evidence that it helped wildlife was ever provided). The the rains came the cut material got back into the water stream and blocked all the sluives so the flooding and property damage was far worse than it would have been.

    That’s just one example, there were lots more.

    So don’t hold your breath; unless this government is prepared to take on the green lobby ( who are deeply entrenched in the civil service, government agencies and BBC), then we will throw away the opportunity we now have to do things differently, under the mantras of “maintaining standards” and “protecting the environment”.

  6. Mark B
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    We will also be able to dictate how animals are treated. Those countries that do not operate decent animal welfare can find their produce banned from our market. The UK is in strong position to champion better animal welfare and standards. Both in quality of produce and cleanliness.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      How about we end meat imports entirely, and just rely on what the British farmers produce? They say we eat too much meat, and there is something decadent about a 16 oz steak.
      No more foie gras and beef from countries that practice bull-fighting.

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        don’t forget ‘cod’ if we get our fishing rights and fleet back….you never know it might actually come down in price

      • Shirley M
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        “No more foie gras and beef from countries that practice bull-fighting.”

        That would get a big uptick from me. Likewise with crated veal and narrow farrowing pens.

        Ban export of live animals for slaughter. They are treated inhumanely during transport and many die or suffer serious injury on the journey.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Indeed all good points. The EU did huge damage to farming, as they did in nearly every other area they interfered with. But the net zero carbon agenda, climate alarmism, expensive intermittent energy policy, the Paris accord and the Climate Change Act will however do far, far more damage.

    It is reported that the government has set up a new cyber team to crack down on the spreading of fake news linked to the coronavirus outbreak on social media platforms.

    Perhaps the government can give us so real news how many of the isolated, ICU beds, ventilators and the like they now have free for the thousand who will need them in a few days/weeks.

    So much fake news comes from the government itself. Endless fake new on climate alarmism from government and the BBC almost every single day. The transport secretary even tells us electric cars are “zero emission”. Theresa May and other government ministers and Chancellors tell us they are repaying the debt and cutting taxes. When the debt and taxation levels have just gone up and up and up.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      The Paris Accord will by design & effect stop ALL innovation and development

  8. Nig l
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Talking of museum farming, one only has to go to France which I believe is the biggest benefactor of the CAP with eye watering amounts being spent seemingly more to support a way of life, than a competitive industry. It is said every French politician is related to a farmer. No wonder Macron is the latest in a long line of politicians to refuse to allow this to be reformed.

    Another area where we have been fed BS by uk politicians ending with Cameron about how things were changing when in reality, they weren’t.

    A further example of why we are better off out.

  9. The Prangwizard
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    All good and practical, devoid of damaging ideologiy. Can we extend this and stop planting lines of trees on perfectly good farming land. That is based upon an ideology only.

    On the subject of flooding we have a small named river near where I live, more of a ditch but it is not managed and is filled with shrubs and weeds. As soon as there is heavy rain it overflows into adjoining fields spoiling the land. More waste of resourses through neglect and ideology.

  10. Dave
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    That the Environment Agency would abandon pumping and dredging practices that created the landscape they are supposed to protect illustrates just how unfit for purpose they are. Similarly the whole government is wedded to the ludicrous and disastrous anti CO2 agenda passed by May before she was booted out. We are certain to have to fight another Brexit type battle against the establishment that seem determined to destroy this country. If you count how many times government create problems that they have to “solve” it really is horrifying.

  11. mickc
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Again, best of luck with all of that!

    So far as I can see, the new policy is ALL about “green-ness” and the environment, not about actually producing food. Food will, no doubt, be mainly imported from countries not burdened with the same.

    The planning system further militates against efficiency, as it does in all sectors of the economy, not to mention the “carbon zero” targets.

    This government, so far, produces much noise but no substance. The Budget will prove interesting…

  12. Lifelogic
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    So UK 10 year bond rates now under a 0.25%. Yet UK personal overdraft rates at perhaps 39.9% or even 78% as some banks. This encouraged by the FCA and one assumes the BoE and the soon to be new BoE Governor from the FCA. Are they going to allow this daylight robbery to continue? 16,000% is quite some margin for the banks and shows a total lack of and real competition in the marked. Actually encouraged by the FCA it seems! Where is the competition authority?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      What is Andrew Bailey’s position on this lunacy? He should know as he is CEO of the FCA and soon off to head up the BoH. Is he a fan of 40+% overdrafts for all?

    • Nig l
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      What has this got to do with today’s topic? You’ve banged about this umpteen times. Time for a rest.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 10, 2020 at 4:02 am | Permalink

        We have still not had any sensible statement on it from the BoE, FCA or any minister that I have seen or heard.

  13. jerry
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Fine words but unless the PM is willing to radically change how the Westminster village does Farming and Food (no sign of that so far) there is little hope that common sense and good modern practice will be allowed – DEFRA is the problem, not the solution.

    We need a return to the separate departments prior to 2001, MAFF (including safety and pest/disease control) with a separate Department for Environment to deal with non-farming policy, there being a conflict of interest within DEFRA [1] between its purely environmental (often gesture) remit and its purely MAFF remit, with the former always seemingly to the fore.

    Might I also suggest a couple of radical ideas, a/. that MAFF has its HQ outside of the London bubble in a more rural farming area and b/. DfE be subordinate to MAFF were their remits cross, such as river & flood management?

    [1] far greater than that which existed in MAFF prior to the 2001 F&M outbreak, and as a consequence DEFRA has failed as a Ministry far more than MAFF ever did

  14. oldtimer
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Probably all the food we eat is the product of selective breeding ever since humans started to farm. Blanket barriers to innovation make no sense. UK farming needs to focus on what it is or can be good at, making use of the soil and climate available to it and working its way out of subsidies. New Zealand farmers have broadly achieved this. There should be no reason why UK farmers cannot achieve the same objective over, say, a five to ten year period.

  15. Yossarion
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Neo Nics kill the bees and other insects that are needed to pollinate, to re introduce is a no brainier for the long term.

    • DennisA
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      This topic is hotly debated and there is strong evidence that they don’t.

      • hefner
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        Your evidence being?

      • hefner
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        Two papers in Science, 29/06/2017, 356, 1393 and 1395, by Woodcock et al. at experimental fields in the UK, Ukraine and Germany, the other by Tsvetkov et al. looking with a different procedure at the effects of neo nicotinoids on bees in Canada get basically the same results: presence of neo nicotinoids in normal usage conditions decreases the number of bees around in successive seasons.

      • hefner
        Posted March 10, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Hey DennisA, I am waiting for your evidence. Did you read that in Beano? Or are you not too keen on hot debate?

    • LinJ
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Surely the point that’s being made isn’t that we should reintroduce them, but that we should avoid products from other countries that do use them.

  16. Lifelogic
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    FTSE down 8.5% just today. It seems that the market is finally getting it – lets us hope the government finally understands the seriousness of the situation soon too. How are those thousands of new isolated ICU beds and ventilators coming on? Have we ascertained if any of the anti-virals or any other drugs or treatments help survival rates? Can we have some information on this please rather than endlessly telling us to sing and wash our hands?

    After all we were assured that the NHS was “very well prepared” by Hancock not than anyone sensible believed him! Meanwhile while people fly in from lockdown areas like Milan and other places. This with no checks or even information at all and get straight on the Tube and Trains.

    • hefner
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Nothing to do with Saudi Arabia stopping talks with Russia, then?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 10, 2020 at 4:00 am | Permalink

        Not much as lower oil prices are a net benefit to most businesses.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      Also promised by Sunak that he would provided everything the NHS needs – well they need about 20,000+ more ICU beds with ventilators etc. and with suitably protected staff in just a week or two’s time across all the country . How many have they managed so far? Might we recruit those who have recovered from the virus and are thus immune to help in these new wards perhaps (in the non medical jobs?).

    • LinJ
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t seen it said anywhere that we must introduce many more ‘minor injuries clinics’ to take the strain off the A&Es.
      We had one in our town – it was closed down, despite being well used. Now our local A&E is being slated for its ”under performance”, despite many other A&Es in the area being closed down.

  17. Lifelogic
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    No evidence that closing down sports arenas will stop the transmission of coronavirus says the Culture Secretary. Well no not “stop”, but it would clearly be likely to slow it down – giving rather more time for the NHS to get ready for the thousands needed ICU treatment in a few days of weeks.

    Can the government get real please?

  18. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Yes, you could say to a celebrated string quartet, “well done, you make some nice music, fine, but we’re going to take your fiddles off you and throw them in a crusher. But don’t worry. Here are some harmonicas and an old accordion – you’ll get the hang of them, and then the world is your oyster”.

    That is what this exiting the European Union madness means to many businesses.

    And people like our host write as if these are benefits for those so impacted.

    • Fred H
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      no it is what it means to YOU. The rest of us are quite content and look forward to the music.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 10, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        No, that’s not what the operators of many hitherto successful businesses trading within the European Union say at all.

  19. Edwardm
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    The EU was gradually taking us back to the dark ages by eschewing evidence, experience and common sense. We need to abandon bad practices now. Unfortunately, the PM and his government seem to want to appease the irrational green lobby instead.

  20. BJC
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Those annointed with power and authority in this country have fallen into the EU trap where strict adherence to processes takes precedence over desired outcomes. For example, it’s likely Mr Sunak will relax the “fiscal rules” in response to current economic pressures. I expect to hear howls of condemnation about this, rather than calm appraisal as to how it will impact the government’s overall objectives.

  21. GilesB
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    We should remove the pernicious high tariffs on chocolates (tariffs up to 40%) from developing nations.

    It is outrageous that the EU limits them to exporting raw Cacao beans (tariffs 4%) in order to protect the fat manufacturers in Belgium.

    Similarly the German coffee industry makes more profits than any coffee growing country.

    • GilesB
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      There is a strong ethical case for ‘fair trade’ that encourages rather than blocks development, particularly as the economic benefits flow to the individual farmers and local co-operatives as they work up the value chain.

      Which contrasts with ‘Aid’ which far too often gets stuck with corrupt officials, and is used by the EU to curry favour with the national politicians.

  22. Bryan Harris
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Talking of museum farming reminded me that we are still in the museum (dark age) of water supply and retention.

    With so much water currently available, can anyone tell us what the water companies are doing to harvest this excess and keep it banked for the next summer drought?

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Thames Water have been trying for many years to get a reservoir built alongside the river Thames not far from where I am and much as I support the idea it is stalled by just about everyone and everything. The processes which allow delay need dismantling. Just about every special interest is allowed a say, a disproprtionate one at that. Nothing can get done.

    • jerry
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      @Bryan Harris; You’ll probably need to buy some shares in a water company or two and attend their AGMs to have that question answered, although they may refuse to answer even then, citing commercial confidentiality – of course 40 years ago any compliant MP (or Peer) could have simply asked a govt Minister on your behalf, as the Minster would have known of any plans by the water companies …sorry, govt. to build such reserve capacity.

  23. Everhopeful
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    If the tories don’t stop with the building and mass immigration. ( Doubtful to say the least), then they can forget farming. Forget feeding ourselves again. Actually embrace famine! Not to mention flooding.
    Where there is a housing estate called “ Water Mead/Edge/ End” or “Water ANYTHING” then you know it is built on water meadows which were once one of our natural flood solutions.
    They can’t KEEP ON building AND produce food…whatever the little pipe dream.
    Oh….no doubt the actual pipe dream is of those terrible indoor farms like they have in the US…underground probably.

  24. Dunc.
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Owen Patterson always talked sense, this throwing under the bus after intervention of the Green Lobby was a shameful episode .

  25. NickC
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    JR said: GM “is after all a version of selective breeding which has characterised past agricultural progress”. No, it isn’t. Selective breeding uses the existing, natural, gene pool; GM uses new genes – by definition.

  26. agricola
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I think farmers are canny enough to be able to get on with the job they do best. They have the instability of our changing climate to live with , so what they really need is a stable market. I think many would benefit from a curb upon the predatory buying habits of the large supermarkets. Maybe a branch of the Min/Ag could be created to ensure fair play. The EU may well find itself with even greater surpluses to dispose of. Government can prevent dumping in the UK via opportunist supermarkets. A situation which in the past has had a very negative effect on dairy farming.

    Farming is rarely an instant killing ground. It involves planning and acts of faith with a wait of one to five years for a return. Bare this in mind when considering the future of agriculture in the UK.

  27. a-tracy
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    What are neo nics?

    • hefner
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      Neo nicotinoids, with recent research showing that their producers’ claims to be of no impact on bees and other pollinators might not be so.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Pesticides…approved by the EU for use in 2005.
      Not sure if they are all Fipronil but Fipronil is certainly a neo nic.
      And guess what?? We spray cats with Fipronil to kill fleas because it disrupts the fleas nervous system.
      Who’d have thunk it??

  28. Matt
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    As well as the dredging around the Somerset Levels (successful) there was the non-dredging elsewhere (unsuccessful) as well as the fires in Australia owing to the failure to clear brush.

    In both cases the animals supposedly being saved were killed by fire or flood. The damage to human habitat was futile.

    Few of us deny climate change.

    We now have to adapt to it and governments need to put people first. It’s all very well those with more than one home telling the rest of us that we must suffer the consequences but they then wonder why we deliver decisions like Brexit.

    It’s the hypocrisy we can’t stand. They’re just too thick and insulated from reality to see it.

  29. Everhopeful
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Nice to know that NHS apparently relies on drugs imported from India!
    And that now with huge SENSE India is putting its own people first and keeping the meds!!
    What a novel idea.

  30. Doug Powell
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Just when we thought it was possible to switch on the TV without being subjected to Brexit Bashing, The Brexit Bashing Corporation couldn’t resist clinging to the merest straw to continue its crusade! On Sunday the Corporation’s flagship Brexit Basing programme, hosted by its Basher in chief, was interviewing the Chancellor on matters of the economy – apropos of absolutely nothing, Mr Sunak was asked “Bearing in mind the corona virus outbreak, even the most ardent Brexiteers were of the opinion that it would be sensible to extend the withdrawal agreement?”
    The Chancellor replied “Delays solve nothing!” – Good on you Rishi!

    • Andy
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      It is not the job of the BBC to be a propaganda arm of the Brexiteers. You have the Mail, Telegraph and Express if you want syncophants.

      Independent media organisations and the BBC have a duty to ask tough questions of those in power. It is not the fault of any journalist that the Brexiteers are all so staggeringly unable to answer such questions.

      At some point you will realise that you’ve been had. I guess you’re just not ready to accept that yet.

      • Doug Powell
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

        I have no objection to the BBC broadcasting whatever pseudo independent crap it wishes to, provided, of course, that it earns the revenue to pay for that privilege!
        What I and 17.4m like minded souls object to is our money being spent to undermine the largest democratic mandate in our country’s history! That is not independent – just pure and simple propaganda!

        Scrap the Television Tax now!

      • Edward2
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        Your rant has almost no relevance to the content of Doug’s post.
        You really need to calm down andy

      • Pud
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        “Independent media organisations and the BBC”; are you admitting the BBC is not independent?

  31. Tabulazero
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Dear Sir,

    Have you noticed that neither France nor Germany nor the Netherlands looks to have suffered from the same level of flooding as the UK despite being members of the EU and under the CAP ?

    Why is that ?

    Rather than pointing the finger at Brussels, I suggest you look closer to home because austerity and cuts to public spending could also have had an impact on the dredging of ditches, don’t you think?

    Hopefully, this sorry state of affairs will be quickly reversed as the Conservative Party has now embraced socialism in a bid to convince people to forget that they have been in charge for a decade and are therefore responsible.

    The EU has set-up a flooding defence fund. I am hopeful the UK government will do something similar as part of its “levelling up” exercise which might even include a visit of the current Prime Minister to the worst impacted area so he can take stock of the situation despite his and his partner busy schedule with a new baby on its way.

    Best regards

  32. Ian Kaye
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    The government needs to talk with the food industry about labelling Where do salted peanuts come from? Nobody knows It might be sensible to label as product of USA or Mexico if supply from one of these countries dries up

    • Andy
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      The EU introduced such a rule – which many EU countries have adopted. The Tory government opted out of certain aspects of it. Predictably.

      In any case such labelling requires the sort of red tape the Brexiteers told you they would scrap.

  33. Peter
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    This country has operated on a food deficit since long before the EU. We cannot just blame everything on the EU.

    Yes, a key objective in the setting up of the EU was the protection of small French farmers – but we knew that before we joined.

    In any case, I am not 100% sold on promoting the interests of large scale ‘agri business’ and throwing traditional family farmers under the wheels. I very much enjoy the British lamb raised for little profit by the hill farmers of Wales, the Lake District and elsewhere.The sarcastic label ‘museum farming’ leaves no doubt what side Paterson is on. I suppose ‘museum farmers’ cannot afford large sums to buy influence with the ‘troughers’ in Westminster. There are a lot of gentlemen farmers there too. They will know a lot about the tax benefits of agricultural land and woodland but never actually get mud on their hands or boots.

  34. Iain Gill
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I see more random social engineering policies in the budget are being pre announced by ministers. Stuff that was neither in the manifesto or Dom Cummings blog. Not related to fixing the inefficient public sector, just random scatter gun stuff.

    Really is this the best the country can do?

    • jerry
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      @Iain Gill; “Stuff that was neither in the manifesto or Dom Cummings blog.”

      That’s not be difficult seeing that very little was in either, other than “Get Brexit done”, and even that has been delayed by 11 months, despite having legally left the EU…

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      What are these? I would have thought with the virus, Brexit, have a bonfire and red tape, scrapping all the climate alarmist lunacy and undoing all the idiotic tax changes from Brown, Darling, Osborne and Hammond they had quite enough to get on with.

  35. BillM
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Hallelujah! However, I would like to witness less talk and more direct action.
    The Government has the power to change all of these irritations so what are they doing about it? Owen Paterson has the knowledge and ability but Boris seems to have ignored his special talents.

    • DennisA
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Paterson would oppose the green Agenda. That cannot be allowed. When Hammond and the Treasury came up with the 1 trillion price tag for May’s new deal, (an underestimate), BEIS challenged it and called as witnesses, the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, a WWF policy expert and Baroness Worthington.

      As Bryoni Worthington, she was responsible with Ed Miliband for the disastrous Climate Change Act and the Climate Change Committee, behind which the government hides when it announces destruction of the economy with “Net Zero” measures.

      Baroness Worthington is now the European Director for the very wealthy US NGO, Environmental Defense. It’s in the Register of Interests.

  36. Willaim Long
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    The dismissal of Owen Paterson was probably David Cameron’s second greatest mistake, after the futile nature of his attempted renegotiation with the EU.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Ratting on his cast Iron promise, appointing Warsi as Chairman, pretending to be a low tax at heart Conservative and EUsceptic when he was the complete opposite, appointing the dire G Osborne and Carney and Lord Patten at the BBC trust, bombing Libya, ratting on the IHT promise, putting taxes up hugely and tax complexity, not serving section 50 notice the next day, choosing people on race and gender rather that ability, firing Owen Patterson …… one could go on and on!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        Appointing May as Home Secretary or indeed as anything.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        Still he eventually was forced to give us the referendum! Even if he did try to slope the pitch at every turn.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 9, 2020 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

          The problem is he attempted to renegotiation without being remotely serious about it. So he got nothing as one would expect! Rather like the childish Teresa May did later.

          Both needed to understand negotiation, maths, logic and game theory – but neither did.

      • SM
        Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        “…one could go on and on”:

        you do go on and on LL, you have become the typical pub bore, droning on about every topic under the sun regardless of John’s original post.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

          No one forces you to read them!

          • Edward2
            Posted March 10, 2020 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

            Take no notice of this heckler LL

  37. John Swannick
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Not sure promoting use of bee-killing Neonics is helpful in increasing support for Brexit. Surely better we focus on negotiating higher standards as part of an improved deal with Ukraine and/or allow our farmers to be appropriately rewarded for sustainable practices.

  38. bill brown
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Sir JR

    Dredging is still done in the UK and it is not true that the EU prevented dredging happening in the UK. (as it still happens) The EU legislation affects some the issues but it does not prevent dredging. (source Institute of Independent facts). And according to the Environmental Agency, dredging in Somerset would not have prevented the flooding.(Chair of the agency)

    Can we kindly stick to real facts . (whatever Mr. Owen Patterson might think)

    • Edward2
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      So bill the Environment Agency follows with enthusiasm the EUs Water Directive and its do nothing leave nature to take its course protect wildlife habitats ideals.
      And so very little river widening or dredging or maintenance has been done for 20 years.

      Tell us why the Somerset Levels have not flooded this year.

      • bill brown
        Posted March 10, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink


        I can only refer to the experts as I have done above, I am no more capable of answering that question.
        Are you ?

        • Edward2
          Posted March 10, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

          Yes the policy of doing nothing and only allowing nature to take its course in the Somerset Levels was reversed after the last disastrous floods.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 10, 2020 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

            In fact bill the EA had their powers removed from the area.
            Power was returned to a local area authority who have dredged the rivers, returned pumps back to working order and cleared ditches and raised the heights of river banks.
            It has worked.
            After 20 years of inaction.

          • bill brown
            Posted March 11, 2020 at 12:56 am | Permalink

            I can only refer to the answer from the chair

          • Edward2
            Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

            The directive doesn’t directly ban dredging but it makes it very difficult to do.
            Hardly any has been done in the UK for 20 years.

  39. DennisA
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    “bee-killing Neonics” This is a false description. The EU only banned them because of pressure from NGO’s, not on the basis of evidence.

  40. Lester Beedell
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Once again so much common sense displayed in the majority of posts on here!
    As I mentioned recently our council, South Glos has declared a Climate Emergency, any attempt to question them over this is met with the suggestion to contact my MP Luke Hall who just parrots the government line!
    This is being led by the UN which is dominated by 3rd world states who have no wish to see the West prosper and is diametrically the opposite of why the UN was formed
    I feel an air of despair

  41. Martin C
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been lucky enough to live in the same house in the countryside since 1974. I’ve watched the effect of Europe’s regulations on the farms and fields around me. Remember set-aside? BSE? This led to a period when farmers, in order to survive financially, sold off fields for pony-culture and horse-culture, effectively taking them out of food production. If fields for ponies and horses are assessed as agricultural land, perhaps it’s time that they had their own higher rating to encourage their use back into food production.

  42. Norman
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Sir John, I have seen many attempted innovations in farming go wrong – indeed I was in the front line in combating what became man-made plagues. That’s why I am a little nervous by your title ‘museum farming’, as it could imply contempt for the time-honoured ways of good agricultural practice.
    I’m afraid many people who try to apply an industrial philosophy to farming are in great danger of getting things wrong. There are good, legitimate ways to improve things, but its often difficult even for farmers themselves to get it right.
    The classic example was BSE. Materialistic science said its OK to boost ruminant rations with meat and bone meal. What could possibly go wrong? We got away with it under certain conditions, but eventually reaped a very unpleasant harvest from making our herbivores into cannibals.
    Over intensification in the poultry industry, for all its remarkable achievements, led to endemic salmonellosis – largely brought under control now through vaccination on the breeder farms – but also statutory maximum stocking densities.
    I love the Americans, for all their free enterprising spirit, but they are not always right: I do not agree with hormone implants in cattle, nor transgenics – introducing cross-species genetic components – it’s a pandora’s box, and violates the created order (yes, I know I’ll lose many there, but I cannot help that!)
    On the matter of neo-nicotinoid insecticides, given the vulnerability of pollinators, the EU may well have it right, and we should not be too proud to say so.
    I lobbied years ago against some of the work of Professor Winston, and Baroness Warnock, e.g. concerning the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill. It was an uphill struggle, because, sadly, materialism trumps Biblical morality so easily and so often nowadays.
    But of this I am sure: we reap what we sow; I can only speak up, warn, and hope that good counsel will prevail.

  43. forthurst
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    The problem is not museum farming but museum politics. The idea that once out of the EU we should adopt every farming practice the EU has banned because of EU=wrong is a perfect example of the medieval thinking of the existing political parties whereby a scientific decision is to be taken on the basis of Leave/Remain.

    There is evidence that neonicotinoids kill pollinators as well as harmful insects. This is an area where propagandists on either side will lobby people who do not have a scientific bone in their bodies and a decision will be taken on which lobby makes the most noise and whether it would help the Green Party which is always on the lookout for issues to appear relevant. Decisions on such matters should be taken always on the basis of controlled experiments.

    Another example of scientific illiteracy is to extrapolate from selective breeding of animals to gene-splicing as a more modern alternative. Selective breeding can produce variations which are more fit for purpose or less. Splicing a gene for beta-carotene in one variety of rice and then ordering the third world to use it exclusively could cause mass starvation as it becomes exploited by a new variant plant disease. Species survive through exploiting their most fit genetic variations and maintaining a repertoire of different animal and plant varieties is good husbandry. In any case, vitamin A is very widespread throughout the plant kingdom and many poor people avoid blindness by a better culturally determined diet not a more expensive one.

    • forthurst
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      There is also evidence that genes spliced into target varieties have escaped into wild plants by cross polination and thereby given protection from weed killers to plants which they were intended to kill.

  44. glen cullen
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Museum farming is an apt description for an industry that hasn’t developed much during the past half century. But why would they, they’ve been given subsidy after subsidy for maintaining the same old hedgerow without any real scrutiny. You can’t really blame the farmers because of UK/EU policies towards environment over food production.

    Also I’d venture that these subsidies, in reality, artificially affect the prices that food manufacturers/sellers pay farmers….it’s a double whammy (a) the farmers get paid via subsidy to produce cheap products in the same old way while (b) the food manufacturers/sellers reap the benefit of the subsidised cheaper product

    • gregory martin
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      You cover half of the ground.
      Under the CAP, the ‘subsidy’ is not for producing food, it is paid to owners of land. This may be to a ‘real farmer’, if he owns his land. It may also be to a ‘charity’ such as RSPB , the Wildlife Trusts, National Trust. They may lease off part of their land to farmers, while retaining the BPS payment.
      The problem that farmers have is that their inputs (fuel,machinery,fertilisers, seed and labour, etc) are paid at 2020 UK prices whereas the ‘world price’ that they get for produce is held down by availability from countries with lower costs, lower welfare and quality standards, and by a limited number of supermarket buyers who have no incentive to offer a price above ‘world ‘commodity prices.
      It is time to tax foodmiles rather than apply tarriffs, thereby paying a premium price to local home producers, and to only allow imports from foreign producers who can demonstrate compliance to standards such as Red Tractor, with the accompanying taxation that such schemes impose on our farmers.

      • Fred H
        Posted March 10, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

        well said.

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        It is indeed a mess and your analysis is correct but you have to follow the money.
        Food manufacturers/sellers screw down prices paid for produce as they know the produce price can be offset by subsidy (so in affect they are receiving the benefit of that subsidy). I just wonder what effect the removal of all subsidies would have on the commodities market….maybe a re-balance with real competition

  45. John S
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Owen Paterson was sacked by David Cameron who was more interested in image than substance. It is a shame Boris Johnson has not reinstated him. He would make a good Energy Secretary. I guess he is not taken in by this anthropogenic climate change nonsense.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Indeed or Lord Lilly. Very few MPs talk any sense on this, but then so few have understand energy, engineering or physics. They are nearly all deluded alarmists.

  46. margaret
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    GM crops ? .not sure that the balance will not be altered to create other problems.

  47. Iago
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    In this rotten government, je n’ai aucune confiance. The French is more emphatic and deserved. Non satis, does that ring any bells? Why did the government not stop flights from China, elsewhere (Iran) and now Italy? Because they couldn’t under the terms of the Withdrawal Treaty and Political Declaration and we have to follow European Union policy with regard to China and Iran and continue to allow movement from EU states and at the same time say nothing? or is it simply that our government and its civil service as regards China has been bought – Hinckley and Huawei.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 10, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      If we couldn’t stop the flights Iago, we could have checked the people before they boarded for fever and isolated them. We were quick to isolate passengers off the cruise in the Wirral and then we seemed to let people from Northern Italy (don’t tell me Italy didn’t know they had a serious problem at the end of January) freely through our airports onto the tube and into London without a care for the repercussions.

      Boris is quick to say he is taking advice from the Chief Medical Advisor, but it won’t be the CMA who gets in trouble for breezily allowing this contamination into the UK. I notice now we aren’t told how many of the 300 affected people are in intensive care, so if the Italian figures are only those in intensive care how many actual contaminated people do they have over there. The EU should be held to account, if it is true we had to follow their policy, for not policing this better when Italian death figures started to take off.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        In Italy about 55% of those with the virus are in hospital and about 10% of those with the virus need intensive care and ventilation. Some are certainly dying for a lack of these facilities beds. Doubtless the UK will be in this appalling position in just a couple of weeks.

        Unless the NHS can work a miracle, but the government show very little sign that they are organising this capacity or taking it very seriously at all.

  48. Mike Wilson
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    The Fed’s emergency rate cut seems to have had the opposite of its intended effect and is believed by many experts to have contributed to the market chaos.

    Perhaps you will now stop endlessly calling for rate cuts. If rates go any lower people will simply stick their money in premium bonds or buy even more property.

    reply I have not proposed a rate cut. Read what I write and comment on that.

  49. ChrisS
    Posted March 10, 2020 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I have just spent almost three weeks in California where I’ve been eating genetically-modifed beef and chicken washed in chlorine, amongst other mortal sins. It all tasted very nice and despite visiting the USA regularly over several decades, I haven’t grown a second head or suffered any other ill-effects.

    I’m certain that US farming practices are a lot better than those carried out in the furthest reaches of Eastern Europe so for the EU to be so sniffy about US agriculture smacks more of blatant protectionism than any genuine concern for animal welfare.

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

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