Err, yes, that’s the point

Farmers across Europe will suffer if the UK unilaterally drops tariffs on food imports after Brexit, in a move that will increase competition and reduce costs for British families, new analysis claims.

More competition, reduced costs, just what we ordered.

10 comments on “Err, yes, that’s the point

  1. I find I can bear the misfortunes of disgusting subsidy-sucking Euro-peasants with remarkable equanimity.

  2. We pay more into the EU than we get out. So it is inevitable that some of that money will go to farmers. They vote Tory.

    So I hope it goes to subsidise lifestyles and not production. Ideally we would open the market to all comers, but pay farmers for caring for the land. Per yard of hedge perhaps.

  3. Countryfile on Sunday (I only watch it for the pictures, honest) had Tom Heap interviewing Welsh hill farmers moaning that they were making a loss on every lamb they sold and without subsidies they would inevitably perish. It never occurred to anyone that the only way a business can continually sell its product for less than it costs to produce is if it’s in receipt of sufficient subsidies. Remove the subsidies and they’ll have to charge a realistic price for their product and we can all decide if we want to continue purchasing it.

  4. It’s funny how farming is a ‘special case’. How many other one-man craft-style trades have disappeared without much more than a whimper? I know an ex-joiner who even buys his own furniture from IKEA. Typesetters, wood turners. etc.

    Is farming really a special case? Or did they have ultra-smart lobbying? Or is it linked to our collective nostalgia about a bygone agricultural ideal (which most of us never actually experienced).

  5. @Ben S: I suspect it’s just Tory heartlands being in the countryside with lots of farmers. Plus a fair few MPs are land owners who benefit from the subsidies. As the natural party of Britain that builds in a pretty strong continuity for them.

    Also romanticised countryside and the conflation of national parks with fields of rapeseed oil choking with manure

  6. “Is farming really a special case? Or did they have ultra-smart lobbying? Or is it linked to our collective nostalgia about a bygone agricultural ideal (which most of us never actually experienced).”

    Its all down to U-boats basically. The experiences of the war, and the food deprivations that engendered resulted in the fervent desire post war to ensure we never went hungry again, and also that we couldn’t be starved into submission by another foe. Hence the system of agricultural subsidies in the UK that predated our entry into the EEC.

    However the entry into the EEC (and thence EU) unfortunately preserved in aspic the mental map of the people who designed the system in the first place – the people who had gone through WW2 with empty stomachs. Because the French farmers will blockade their local town hall, and burn passing lorries at the mere suggestion that they get less subsidies than before, the entire EU Common Agricultural Policy was stuck in a time warp of c. 1975. France would never contemplate reforms, and as France was Le Grand Fromage of the EU, the CAP trundled on, year after year, decade after decade. There were some reforms, to remove the direct link of subsidy to production so as to get rid of the wine lakes and butter mountains, and to make them compliant with WTO rules on agricultural subsidies, but by and large the principle remained the same – pay farmers to if not produce food, at least keep the countryside tidy.

    And most farmers being practical people who don’t like sitting on their backsides, they end up using the subsidy to produce more food, when strictly speaking it would be in their best interests to voluntarily reduce production (and keep the same amount of subsidy, it not being linked to how much you produce), get higher prices for the rest of their produce and have an easier life. But they busy themselves farming the sides of mountains, and complain the prices they get for their produce are awful, which they are, because there’s so much production going on that wouldn’t happen if there were no subsidies.

    The whole system needs a reset, its so riddled with structural problems caused by subsidies that its impossible to say exactly who benefits the most from the money – its entirely possible that most of it ends up in the pockets of landowners and the suppliers of agricultural inputs (fertiliser/chemicals/machinery manufacturers etc) rather than the farmer himself. But until the subs go, we won’t be able to see exactly where it was going, and who goes bust first.

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