Farming in the UK

Was at an NFU hustings last night and there was a great sense of outrage on display. People kept saying that the subsidy was £3 billion a year and the total output was £3 billion a year. This therefore proved that farmers were hard done by.

Erm, no it doesn\’t, it shows that farming offers no economic return whatsoever. If output is equal to subsidy then we\’re entirely wasting all of the other inputs into the system. The labour, land and so on are all being consumed (or used) for no added value at all.

In purely economic terms we\’d be better off by not having the subsidy and not having the farming.



(Yes, I am ignoring the value of a nice countryside etc. But they were making an economic argument, not an environmental one.)

12 thoughts on “Farming in the UK”

  1. The problem is, Tim, that the farmers are in such a state that they are dependent on EU subsidies.

    Your task is to persuade them to give it up. Good luck with that.

  2. I’m not sure how much I agree with this.

    Sure there is probably *some* farming that is dependent on subsidies, but I suspect the majority would carry on pretty much the same without them, once landowners adjusted their rents to suit the new environment…

  3. Dont you think that having farmers is a good idea. it was so in 1940.
    Could you not say if we need an army we need farmers. Eating is nice.

  4. From the IHT

    Small Elite Reaps Millions in E.U. Farm Subsidies
    BRUSSELS — The largest beneficiaries of European Union farm subsidies include an Italian bank in Milan, a French chicken giant and an Irish producer of Weight Watchers meals and Yorkshire pudding, according to previously undisclosed data for 2008.

    unep 2005

    The UN Development Programme found that agricultural subsidies had risen 15% between the late 1980s and 2004, from $243 billion to $279 billion (a figure Vandana shiva considers a vast underestimate), with Japan (56%) relatively most subsidy-intensive in relation to the total value of agricultural production, compared to the EU (33%) and Us (18%) (United Nations Development Programme,2005:19).

    Unlike earlier periods when farming was smaller-scale and at optimized, advanced capitalist countries’ agricultural subsidies today overwhelmingly benefit large agro-corporate producers. subsidies in the EU’s fifteen major countries are even more unequally distributed than the Us, with beneficiaries in britain including Queen Elizbeth ii($1.31 million), Prince Charles ($480,000) and britain’s richest man,the Duke of Westminster ($1.13 million)(sharma, 2005a).

  5. Since the world does not suffer an overabundance of food then we can only conclude that something is wrong somewhere else in the system. We cannot say that farmers are being paid to do makework; the food is a useful product desired by other traders in the market.

    Is it reasonable to suggest that the subsidy is preventing a market profit? (That is to say, if a man stood on a street corner giving away bananas paid for out of general taxation, I would take them for “free”- if he did not, I would buy bananas instead.)

    Also, a total output of 3 billion seems very low to me. That’s 1/200th of the government tax take, for instance. Not a very significant industry at all. Is that the right figure?

  6. Having beautiful countryside is an economic benefit to someone, surely? If I’ve learned one thing from you, Tim, it’s that everything has a price. Beautiful countryside has a benefit for hotel owners, country pubs and other tourist concerns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *