No, this isn’t the reason

Ruth Davidson yesterday told farming leaders it would be “foolhardy” to give MSPs the power to create an entirely separate Scottish replacement for the EU’s controversial Common Agricultural Policy after Brexit.

The Scottish Tory leader said she expected “an almighty political row” over the coming months over whether Westminster or Holyrood runs agriculture after powers are repatriated from Brussels.

She argued it would be wrong to create barriers within the UK domestic market – the destination of 85 per cent of Scotland’s ‘agri-exports’ – by having different systems on both sides of the Border.

If Scotland has a different policy then Scotland will have to pay for it. If it’s a British policy then maybe Britain as a whole will pay for it, to the benefit of the Scots.

22 comments on “No, this isn’t the reason

  1. If Scotland has a different policy then Scotland will have to pay for it.

    It is just me or does that seem a good policy? I think that it would be sensible to insist on a free market in food with Scotland, but it also occurs to me, idly, that people deserve the policies they voted for. Deserve them good and hard.

    Who wouldn’t smile a little, whose heart would not warm a bit at the thought of the Nats living off Haggis, neeps and tatties washed down with some Cock-a-leekie soup? Every day. For the indefinite future.

  2. Alan Douglas – “Much to my surprise, haggis is delicious. So is Cock-a-leekie.”

    You miss my point. I like ’em both. And neeps. Just not every single day for the rest of my life.

  3. Ms Davidson concluded that it was “surely possible” to design a better system for distributing farming subsidies than the Common Agricultural Policy, which she said attempted to cater for farmers on the shores of the Mediterranean and the fringes of the Arctic Circle.
    But Ruth, this is the EU’s main thing, subsidising it and protecting it from non-EU competition, and you knew this, and you supported continued membership less than a year ago. So why the change in view?
    Still Robert Peel switched from being a protectionist to a free trader in his time as PM, so volte face is not unusual among Con leaders.

  4. The only sensible form of subsidy for the countryside, apart from none, is to accept it is part of the heritage industry. It is like a Constable painting in real life that townies and tourists want to see.

    So the subsidy should not be for production but for preserving whatever tourists will pay to visit. Horses for instance. Above all hedges. If the Scots want to pay out to farmers per metre (or even better, yard) of hedge, I will support that.

  5. “Farmer’s should run agriculture–not political scum.”

    Good god no. Most farmers struggle to run their own businesses. I have come to the conclusion that 70+ years of agricultural subsidies has meant farmers have this inbuilt almost genetic opinion that they are somehow uniquely deserving of being paid to grow food. I guess its not surprising given the history of why subsidies came into being – empty stomachs tend to produce strong memories. But getting rid of that folk memory is hard for the farming industry.

    Personally I would offer the UK public 3 options – A) food can be imported from wherever its cheapest, but you must allow UK producers to produce under the same rules as the imports, B) You can regulate UK production methods, but must apply the same rules to the imports, or C) you can have the cheap imports plus regulate UK production if you pay compensation payments to pay for the improvement to the environment thus created.

    Any one of those three is fair to consumer and producer. What isn’t fair is consumers saying ‘We want cheap produce produced in ways that may damage the environment, but we don’t want our personal environment damaged so we’ll stop UK producers from using those methods’ AKA having your cake and eating it.

  6. Any Tory who sees John Major as their political idol can’t be trusted an inch on the EU, or much else.

  7. O/T our village coffee shop was doing home made “Neeps, Tatties and (optional) Haggis” soup to celebrate Burns Night. Very good, too.

  8. O/T our village coffee shop was doing home made “Neeps, Tatties and (optional) Haggis” soup to celebrate Burns Night. Very good, too.
    As it happens we’ve got friends coming round on Friday for a full Burns supper. One of the few things I miss about my time in the Army was a good Mess Burns Night.

  9. Jim,

    “I have come to the conclusion that 70+ years of agricultural subsidies has meant farmers have this inbuilt almost genetic opinion that they are somehow uniquely deserving of being paid to grow food.”

    Have you ever tried watching Countryfile? I have to turn it off because there’s always some report of a farmer having problems and they all stand there asking for government help to fix something, or a grant for something. I throw stuff at the TV with the words “it’s your fucking business. Would you like to come over and repair my backups your cunts”.

  10. @BiW: I don’t watch CountryFile because I am a farmer and no-one who is a real farmer would touch it with a barge pole. Its for the urban masses to go ‘Aaaahhh’ about the countryside mostly.

    To be fair to farmers one has to remember that most of them grew up in the ‘produce more more more’ era. Most farmers are over 50 I think, at least the ones with management powers would be, their formative years would have been the 60s and 70s when it was still government policy to demand more agricultural production. Everything was aimed at that goal, a left over from the hungry years of 39-50. It wasn’t until the 90s that reforms to the CAP meant production made less important, and not until the 00s that subsidy was decoupled from production entirely. Thus you would have to be under 35 to have grown up in a more free market food production environment, and the way farming is structured means the older generation rarely hand over the reins until they are well past it, having sons in their 40s with wives and families but still staying in overall charge of the business.

    None of the above excuses the attitude, but it does explain it.

  11. I’d be quite happy for the Scots Parliament to run everything in Scotland.

    Everything would be fine, given the SNP’s ability to spin any news like a nuclear top.

    Of course, there would be the odd food, petrol and energy shortages, the education system would be appalling and Scots would leave Scotland in droves.

    But in the media, all would be sweetness and light apart from the war being conducted by the English still denying Scotland its rightful riches.

    Chokka Blog is a fun place to observe SNP policies in action.

  12. “Bloke wants to cut down trees. Council jobsworths refuse bloke permission to cut down trees. Events prove trees to be lethally dangerous; thankfully they didn’t hit anyone.”

    The usual modus operandi in such situations is to write to the council informing them in no uncertain terms that in the event of an accident after a refusal to allow the landowner to remove the tree they will be pursuing the council for damages. This normally concentrates the councils mind a bit, or at least the mind of their insurers, and they cave in.

  13. @Jim – as a farmer, could you help with my (mis)understanding of the subsidy position?

    We often hear that (e.g.) milk producers are making a loss (or, at best, 1 or 2p) on every litre they sell. I assume this is because the negotiating muscle is with the wholesalers (mostly supermarkets). But if we removed all subsidies, wouldn’t they have to sell at a higher (more commercial) price (or go out of business)? Aren’t the subsidies, intended to support struggling farmers, just ending up in the pockets of the supermarkets and/or the public as the ultimate consumers?

    And is a similar argument true for beef, lamb, pork etc?

  14. Subsidies go to land these days. Area payments. So, all they do is increase the capital value of land. Thus it is more expensive to become a farmer (like buying a house these days). The subsidy disappears to landowners as Ricardo insisted such rent like subsidies always would.

  15. There seems to be a view ( not here though ) that cheap food is bad for the environment. I don’t get it. It’s cheap because it requires the fewest inputs, so means more land can be taken out of industrial/agricultural production. This is an environmental plus surely. I think the recent Norberg book asks us to imagine taking an area of land the size of France out of agriculture every decade.
    To which someone will make the quip “Why not just take France out of agriculture now?”

  16. “Aren’t the subsidies, intended to support struggling farmers, just ending up in the pockets of the supermarkets and/or the public as the ultimate consumers?”

    Agricultural subsidies mainly end up being subsidies of land ownership, because you can’t produce food without land, by and large. Ergo the more money you give to farmers (who may or may not own the land they farm) the more money they have to bid rents up (if they are tenants), or goes straight into their pocket, if they are owner occupiers.

    There is also an argument that as subsidies allow marginal producers to stay in production, particularly owner occupiers, this drives production higher and prices lower, to the main benefit of the food processors and retailers.

    To be honest its impossible to say exactly where the benefit of the subsidies ends up, until they are abolished we won’t know who gains the most out of them, or rather loses the most from their disappearance – farmers, landowners, agricultural supply merchants, food processors, retailers or consumers.

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