Questions in The Observer we can answer

Watkins draws comparisons with energy. \”We need to ask ourselves: where will our food come from in the future? We\’ve got to have food security.\”

Quite true. We don\’t want to go to the larder and find that it\’s empty, that\’s for sure.

So, how about expanding English farming then?

It is only now becoming apparent just how terrible sodden 2012 has been for farmers, particularly those in the north-west and south-west. Wheat yields were at their lowest level since the 1980s, the potato crop at its lowest since 1976. The oilseed rape harvest and barley yields also suffered. Livestock farmers suffered too. The wet weather conditions sent the price of animal feed soaring as farmers were forced to keep their animals indoors.

England\’s a fairly small place. So when one are gets shitty weather it\’s not unlikely that all areas will get shitty weather. So if we were to rely upon English farming for all English food we\’d find ourselves locked into something pro-cyclical. When food\’s in short supply it\’s in short supply everywhere in the country.

Which isn\’t a great contribution to \”food security\”.

What we actually want is some counter-cyclical plan. One that doesn\’t depend upon linked events. One, for example, that allows us to source food from outside the area that will all be affected by weather at the same time and in the same manner.

Concern is shifting to sheep farmers, who are losing as much as £29 for each lamb they sell, owing to the rising costs of feed, wet weather and increased competition from New Zealand farmers who can undercut them.

Ah, yes, that\’s it. Buy food from farmers subject to different weather systems. That reduces reliance upon those who will, in a correlated manner, suffer from whatever plague, flood or hailstones affect any specific geographic area.

So, yes, let\’s have food security. In the obvious and simple manner: through trade.

7 thoughts on “Questions in The Observer we can answer”

  1. Yep, open markets and some sort of Navy if things cut up rough. Seems to have worked in the past.

    The UK cannot be self-sufficient even with intensive industrial farming, and we all know what the Lefties think about that.

    If you want organic farming, each cabbage lovingly tendered by a contented peasant, you have to accept lower yields, so more imports.

  2. The last time England was self sufficient in food production was before the corn laws were passed in the early 1800s.

    Pity they do not teach proper history at school anymore.

    One of the rulings of the corn laws was that bakers were not allowed to sell fresh bread, it had to be 24 hours old before it could be sold. Apparently the law makers decided the smell of a freshly baked loaf would entice the population to buy more bread!Buying stale bread was the answer to the over consumption of bread.

    Good to know our political class hasn’t changed and that they know what is best for us!

  3. UK Self-sufficiency in food is perfectly feasible.

    We just need to reduce the population to around 10m or so, maybe less.

    We are thinking about this in the wrong way, people. Think how our enemies think.

  4. UK self-sufficiency in food is perfectly feasible right now. Yes, we import a lot of food. But we also export quite a lot. If trade stopped tomorrow (U-boat blockade perhaps…) we wouldn’t starve.

    What it would mean is a change in diet. No off-season fresh fruit and veg. No coffee. Bread made from crappy grain that we normally use as livestock feed, etc.

  5. The JollyGreenMan

    “The last time England was self sufficient in food production was before the corn laws were passed in the early 1800s.”

    I’m not sure you can say that England has ever been truly self sufficient in food. It’s true there wasn’t much importation of foodstuffs, unless you count things like spices and why not? However in an agrarian society there is the need for a whole range of non foods items to aid with farm production, just as there is with an industrial society and raw materials. Not all of these could be produced efficiently and cheaply locally, even timber was imported in large amounts.

    As for food security during the war, as MattyJ implies it wasn’t land to grow food on that was the problem but fuel for transport and farm machinery. That’s what nearly
    did for us, we were never in danger of not being able to grow enough food, it was petrol and coal that were the big problem. The Greens don’t understand that of course because they’ve completely bought into the romantic myths of WW2, not to mention the romantic myths of 1945-51. Austerity is just fine as long as the right people are imposing it.

  6. Matty J,

    Of course. Unless we have a particularly bad harvest – in which case people would indeed starve.

    Which was the point of the post.

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