Oh, how lovely. The Soil Association once again acts as the trade union for British organic farmers. It does so by insisting that farmers in other countries face higher costs:
Food air-freighted to Britain from developing countries will only bear an organic label in future if it can be shown that it was produced to fair trade standards as well as high environmental standards, the Soil Association said yesterday.
The new ethical standards, which are similar to those that apply to Fairtrade products, will demand that organic food producers in developing countries contribute substantially to the social needs of communities and workers, and guarantee wages and good working conditions.
There\’s nothing wrong with having fair trade standards, just as there\’s nothing wrong with having organic ones. If they make the consumer happier, well, that\’s the point of the whole economy anyway, to increase the happiness of the consumer.
But combining the two is not OK, it\’s protectionism in favour of the British farmer and against the foreign. Oh how liberal they are, making sure that the poor cannot compete with the rich!
For, of course, one of the competetive advantages that such poor places have is that labour is cheaper: and when you\’re growing organic vegetables, for example, labour can be one of your major costs on inputs. So, insist that the farmers pay higher prices for that labour than the local market insists upon and thus reduce their ability to compete. And all in the name of helping the poor eh, by driving the employers bankrupt. Clever scheme, eh? My how they must be hugging themselves with glee over at the Soil Association! A wealthy peer, owner outright of hundreds of acres of prime British farmland, worth millions, gets protected from some runty peasant trying to scrape a living. And he\’ll be praised for it!