The NFU’s double prong

The government must not allow farming standards to slip or be undermined by bad trade deals after Brexit, the National Farmers’ Union has said in a reference to fears that food standards will be sacrificed to seal deals with the US.

Those who advocate a “cheap food policy” should bear in mind the price that is paid in terms of standards, traceability of produce and shifting the environmental impact to other countries, the NFU’s president will say at the union’s annual conference where delegates and politicians including the environment secretary, Michael Gove, will meet on Tuesday.

Anything to maintain he subsidies. Including insisting upon certain standards that can only be met through subsidy…..

Better by far to open the floodgates. And those who want those higher standards can pay for them, those who don’t also have the choice.

24 comments on “The NFU’s double prong

  1. That only works if the UK farmer is allowed to practice the same standards as the cheap imports. If he is forbidden by law from doing X,Y and Z in the UK, while the imports can come from places that allow all those things, then its hardly a level playing field is it?

    By all means abolish all controls on pesticides, all controls on fertiliser use, all controls on the environment, all controls on animal welfare and let in all the food from places that have similarly no control. But don’t salve your middle class consciences by protecting the UK countryside and environment while stuffing your hypocritical faces with cheap food from places that have no protection.

  2. Some nice whataboutery there Jim.

    Degrading your environment to produce cheap food is a very short term game. It soon catches up.

    If we want the Third World to have a nice environment, then buying their food will help deliver it. Then they have money to invest in decent methods, for decent returns.

    NZ can undercut Europe for price, no problem. It also has the will and means to protect its asset. Somalia has.neither.

    The solution to.poor countries degrading their environments is to turn them into rich countries. By buying their stuff.

    The EU product “protection” is where the hypocrisy is.

  3. I’m certainly hoping for cheaper wine from Chile, Oz, NZ, … It won’t stop us trying those delightful English shampagnes.

    While we’re at it, oh farmers: many of the British potatoes we’ve bought this winter have been damaged by some sort of pest, making them useless for roasting. You can’t tell from the outside when you inspect them at the shop; you have to cut them open. Our own crop was so skilfully tended that it was not affected. Now then, what’s the explanation?

  4. @dearieme: Oh, I thought I was just unlucky!

    Always buy King Edwards, from Sainsbury, Asda & Morrisons. This year, dire, with unseen black spots once peeled, a lot of ‘cuts’ into the spud itself, and on one memorable occasion, a totally rotten core once peeled and split!

  5. The Hill Farmland Owners Union seems to be doing a nice bit of work in regulatory capture.
    So the upland areas of the Dales and North Pennines will remain barren and rarely visited, alas.

  6. I’m certainly hoping for cheaper wine from Chile, Oz, NZ, … It won’t stop us trying those delightful English shampagnes.

    How much cheaper? Can’t you get bottles of half-decent wine in the UK for a fiver?

    We can in here in France, at your local corner shop.

  7. My in-laws here in Canada are mostly farmers.

    There is nothing related to farming they won’t complain about, nothing in this universe. They are subsidized sixty-eleven different ways every day and still they bitch and moan.

  8. “Some nice whataboutery there”

    Not really, just asking for some ethical consistency from the UK public thats all. Its a bit hypocritical to be shouting about how much you love the environment and voting for high regulations on UK producers to protect the UK environment while your mouth is stuffed with cheap food from somewhere that doesn’t operate those protections.

    Its money where the mouth is time – if the UK wants ethically and environment protected produced food then pay for it. Either by restricting the cheap imports that don’t meet Uk standards (which would drive up food prices) or by compensating farmers for the regulations they must abide by while competing with imports that don’t face the same standards. Or abolish all controls on food production and let the devil take the hindmost. One or the other, not a cherry pick of what makes you feel good while not costing you a penny.

  9. Bongo,

    It’s supply chains isn’t it. Getting food from outside Abuja into the city whilst keeping it fresh in Nigerian conditions is tricky when you consider the technology used. So really fresh food attracts premium prices, making the use of electricity worthwhile.

    I have doubts about food quality but if this is (as seems likely) going to market below produce flown in by plane and above food that has made its way slowly in from rural Nigeria it is probably aimed somewhere at the rapidly-growing middle classes in Abuja who are prepared to pay a premium for freshness with less concern for taste. So seems like a reasonable innovation.

    Oh, and if you took the roof off the food would get covered in pollution. It’s a Nigerian city remember.

  10. “Which supermarket do you usually frequent?” We are catholic in our shopping: Aldi, Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose.

    We grow our own favoured varieties but don’t grow varieties we can buy easily e.g. Maris Piper. Easily but rottenly.

    We stayed with friends in London last weekend, Their roast tatties were excellent. We asked: the spuds were delivered by an outfit called Farmdrop. If they ever open hereabouts we’ll give them a go.

  11. Tim N.

    UK wine duty is £2.16 per bottle plus VAT on said duty of another 43 pence, so that the first £2.50 is already just tax. Equivalent in France is £0.02 which helps to explain the difference.

    Any wine that sells for a fiver is either loss making or the wine itself costs close to nothing.

  12. I think Jim that most here would happily trash 90% of food regulations. Most are “safety” in name only.

    Which local regulations actually protect the environment? Actually. Not Greenpeace inspired fears of GMO poisoning or BS about the dangers of Roundup. The dangers of unfettered farming are largely imaginary –the farm is a farmer’s largest asset, it has to be protected by the farmer, not spoiled.

    So lose the regs, strip off the subsidies and see what happens. It worked wonders for NZ.

    If the great big monoculture industrial farms were weaned off subsidies, you’d save a fortune. And help the environment.

  13. @dearieme, February 20, 2018 at 11:28 am

    While we’re at it, oh farmers: many of the British potatoes we’ve bought this winter have been damaged by some sort of pest, making them useless for roasting. You can’t tell from the outside when you inspect them at the shop; you have to cut them open.

    The black hole and/or rotten inside the potato after cooking? We’ve had a lot (~5-10%) over past few months – never had in previous years.

    .
    @Jim,
    What is cause?

  14. @Tim N,

    Didn’t know he [Cox] was a Spud abuser too. Not surprised, LBGTxyz is fashionable with sanctimonious lefties.

  15. @Tim W

    [NFU]: …in terms of standards, traceability of produce…

    That works well does it? Anyone remember Horse Burgers?

    Better by far to open the floodgates. And those who want those higher standards can pay for them, those who don’t also have the choice.

    Yes, agree. Let customers choose.

  16. TN… Even paying £10/bottle leaves us with barely £2.75 worth of wine. Just thank the stars you don’t live in Norway or similar.

  17. @bilbaoboy +1
    I’ve been astonished at the quality of local wines in supermarkets for under €2. It may not be Château Lafite (or Castello Ygay for that matter), but it’s certainly not rotgut.

  18. “Anything to maintain he subsidies. Including insisting upon certain standards that can only be met through subsidy…”

    The NZ experience applies here. The farmers fought tooth and nail to keep subsidies. Once they were removed, most farmers thrived.

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