Ignorant fucking tosspotter

How should we – not just the farmers but all of us, in Britain and worldwide – respond to the report from Wales that sheep are dying by the hundreds in snowdrifts up to 20 feet deep?

We could just apply the logic of the neoliberal free market, and do whatever seems cheapest. Then – as Britain came within a whisker of doing under Tony Blair – we would probably let all our farming go the way of our mining, since others can grow food (or dig out coal) much more cheaply than we can, and we can always buy whatever we need on the world market.

Or, still within the spirit of the free market, we could just tell the sheep farmers to get on with it – or else clear off and do something else. Indeed, in the words of farmer David Pittendreigh, chairman of the National Sheep Association in Wales, \”It\’s survival of the fittest now!\” – and the neoliberal market is nothing if not Darwinian. The government will probably take this line. It will be another of its \”tough decisions\”.

Or, although this would be a huge departure, we could get serious. First we should acknowledge that the economics of the neoliberal free market are too simplistic by half, and for farming it is disastrous. For common sense and past experience suggest that we shouldn\’t let farmers go to the wall just because the weather changes or some sheikh decides to hike up the price of oil.

We need our agriculture, and we need it to be secure. The Napoleonic wars and the two world wars showed how vulnerable we are if we take our farming for granted and allow it simply to take its chances. Blockade is not an immediate threat, but food imports are precarious nonetheless. Other countries – including those we rely on, like Brazil – could be hit even worse by climate change than we are. If there is food at all on the world market then others, like China, could outbid us, and may need to.

Sigh.

That Wales is growing frozen lamb this season is an argument in favour of our getting our frozen lamb from New Zealand, not an argument against.

Security of supply comes from multiple sources in numerous different geographical and weather system areas. Not, as this fucking tosspotter is insisting, in relying upon one single area where weather can wipe out a crop.

58 thoughts on “Ignorant fucking tosspotter”

  1. I dont know what it looks like on your computer Tim, but to most people when you include quotes your page is just a disaster area.

  2. Mr Colin Tudge says:
    “Frozen lambs warn of our vulnerability to climate change…”
    Unfortunately for Mr Tudge, they dont. They remind us the Climate Change catastrophiles were telling us, not so long ago, snow in the UK would never be seen again.

  3. Hi Telos,

    A tip. Change the text encoding on your browser.
    I found UNICODE (UTF-8) on my Google Chrome browser (and MS Internet Explorer) do the trick. The problem is not just on Tim’s blog, other UK bloggs seem to have the same problem.

    Be a bit more conservative, help yourself!

  4. Stuck, I can’t say for Chrome but it may be similar to Firefox, which is:

    go to ‘View’ at the top, and in the drop down menu you will find a variety of options inc ‘Character Encoding’. Yours may be stuck on Western ISO 8859 1 which is not much cop. Select Unicode and away you go.

  5. Surreptitious Evil

    The “Campaign for Real Farming”? Well, I suppose we have unreal farming (Sicilian olive groves).

  6. Stuck, for Chrome:

    Click ‘Customise’ (the spanner icon) and go to ‘Tools’ and then go to ‘encoding Unicode (UTF-8)’.

  7. Ah – maybe SE is on a newer (or older) version of Chrome. But you should be able to locate it by messing around a bit.

    Chris – you’re welcome!

  8. Dunno – only fired up my wife’s PC for a few seconds. I suspect you’re on the newest though, knowing her…

  9. Good Lord!

    The mess is sorted and it was that easy! Must make a note to learn more about the internet and its wonders.

    Or maybe not. With all the techies around, all we have to do is ask.

    Thanks guys

  10. How should we – not just the farmers but all of us, in Britain and worldwide – respond to the report from Wales that sheep are dying by the hundreds in snowdrifts up to 20 feet deep?

    By showing sympathy to those Welshmen who’ve lost loved ones?

  11. Rather appropriate.

    He is mixing ‘churras con merinos’ (two types of sheep) meaning his argument is incoherent as Tim so ably points out.

    What the hell has a few dead lambs from bad weather (I weep for people not sheep, although I would prefer them to have reached the oven) got to do with neo-liberal economics?

    On top of that, he knows bu**er all about food supply, famine, security and food logistics either.

    Exactly, BIS. My brain took me right down the same thought line!

  12. One final note on the display (a nd sorry for OT)

    If you use the method above (certainly for Firefox, which I use) it may default back to your original crap view.

    So, for Fiorefiox users, to change the default permanently:

    At the very top of your browser page, click on ‘Tools’

    Click on ‘Options’

    Click on ‘Content’

    On the same line as

  13. …On the same line as Default Font, and after Size, click on Advanced

    At the bottom of the new box, click on Default Character Encoding

    From the long list that appears, select Unicode UTF 8

    Then click OK and then OK again.

    That should cure remaining issues.

  14. You’re in North Wales. It gets wet, it gets cold. No-one says that wine producers in Surrey should get a break for doing it in a more risky location than Burgundy.

    As for food security, livestock production is just as efficient on lowland areas as upland areas, according to Defra. Maybe producing sheep in places which don’t get so cold, like Somerset and Wiltshire might be a good idea, yeah?

  15. TJGM & Interested

    Thanks for that, much appreciated advice, it works for Safari too. I don’t usually like to bugger about with techno stuff in case I blow up the world.

  16. Just out of interest, do lambs normally die in a bad winter/spring? I’m thinking this a bad year, not that this is an unknown event.

  17. To change the settings for Chrome, click the settings button (the three bar icon), select settings, go to the bottom, click show advanced, click customise fonts, go to the bottom, click encoding, and set to Unicode UTF8.

  18. Sourcing food from different ” geographical and weather system areas” incl New Zealand has n’t really been possible since the end of the Ottawa Accords and Imperial Preference at the hands of Roosevelt who, according to Geoffrey Wheatcroft in the New York Review of Books Feb 2013, “not only refrained from going to war until Hitler solved the problem by declaring war on the United States; when did extend aid ,he did so with great ruthlessness, stripping Great Britain of its overseas investment and export trade .”We did n’t go into the E.C. out of choice : the old world trade had been denied us .American writer Paul Reid likens Roosevelt’s actions ( towards Britain) to” a non-combatant lifting the boots and pocket watch off a dying trooper” .
    Now back to the happy techie talk funsters!

  19. Is this a record for the number of times ‘neoliberal’ has appeared in a Daily Spart column?

    But anyway, yes, free trade is a very good way of coping with the uncertainties of food production. Don’t expect Guardian readers, a group whose ignorance outstrips that of the Sun readers they do often mock, to grasp this.

  20. @DBC Reed “Sourcing food from… New Zealand hasnt really been possible since the end of the Ottawa Accords”

    Funny. I “sourced” a leg of New Zealand lamb from my local Waitrose on Saturday, and the place was piled high with them. A third off, very tasty (we had it on Sunday, marinaded in whizzed-up anchovies, mint, capers and garlic, with about half a bottle of Kiwi cab sauv sploshed over it).

  21. And NZ currently exports around 1.8 billion Kiwi dollars worth of stuff to us, most of it food and wine.

  22. Surreptitious Evil

    Well, my dinner is going to be imaginary then. Kiwi lamb, Indian rice, and Aus merlot.

    The veg will probably have come from Africa, so that would probably have been our colony too.

    Although, “Imperial Preference” aside, it is actually possible to buy stuff, food included, from places that were neither in the British Empire nor are now in the EU.

  23. When I leave Tim his site my browser, (latest Firefox), stays on UNI 8, but when I return here it gets reset to Westeros* whatever.

    Entering this comment seems to set it to something else as well.

    It would seem to this old IT guy that the problem is in Tim his site his set up.

    *Like the iron throne, a pain in the arse.

  24. Are we allowed to eat these naturally slaughtered horse-free frozen lambs, or is there a reg that says that since they weren’t slaughtered with the appropriate rubber stamps they are *unclean*?

  25. KB @ 35

    Same here – I thought I’d done something wrong somewhere.

    Tim – can you investigate please?

  26. Like I pointed out recently, this is almost certainly a well-known WP problem caused by the database being set to a different character encoding than the web-server. I suspect the browsers are doing some kind of autodetection leading them to over-ride the content-type in the headers and CSS.

  27. Im unclear as to what (apart from abolishing economics) he wants to do anyway.

    Its hardly as if there are many plausible options – should we pay farmers for their dead lambs anyway? Build an oversized greenhouse over most of north wales? Enact laws threatening the almighty with 60 quid and 3 points if he lets it snow in march again?

    I’ve a lot of friends who are farmers, and I genuinely feel sorry for them – the latest weather has been pretty rough and fairly unexpected (apparently its 15 years since it was this bad round here anything like this time of year), but I really dont see what anyone can do about it. Markets being the handy things they are, Id imagine prices will be strong for whatever has survived. Sadly, we don’t have good future weather prediction, so normal futures markets for farmed produce cant be as efficient as an ideal market would be – that’s just how things are.

  28. “Sourcing food from different geographical and weather system areas incl New Zealand has nt really been possible since the end of the Ottawa Accords and Imperial Preference at the hands of Roosevelt who, according to Geoffrey Wheatcroft in the New York Review of Books Feb 2013…”

    This is a piece of information that really needs to be shared with the Asian, S.American, Middle Eastern & African immigrant communities in the UKs major cities. To think the produce they buy from “the old country” is nothing of the sort but originates on an industrial estate on the fringe of Bognor. They will be shocked! Shocked!

  29. That Wales is growing frozen lamb this season is an argument in favour of our getting our frozen lamb from New Zealand, not an argument against.

    Where does he say we shouldn’t import lamb from New Zealand?

  30. Andrew, he doesn’t say that.

    What he suggests is that it is a better idea to spend Xmillion GBP on securing our lamb supplies (for instance) against all local climate eventualities than to participate in a global market.

    Put another way, what we’re saying is, there is no real need to worry about what happens to Welsh sheep farmers (outside sympathy and possibly a bit of compo) in any given year because we can import lamb from new Zealand.

    Plus, in better years, our farmers get to export their lamb.

    In short, he shouldn’t worry his little head about it too much.

  31. Every time I scroll past this post I momentarily wonder what Worstall’s got against trainspotters.

  32. @DBC – that’s somewhat different from your earlier claim that “Sourcing food from… New Zealand hasnt really been possible”, isn’t it?

    And I can still buy NZ lamb cheaper in Cirencester than Welsh, and they don’t even have to pay to get it across the Severn coming this way.

    And it’s just a reason for getting out of the EU.

    There must be more, but your arse has probably had enough now.

  33. Of course its a reason against being in the EU; if you bother to read my original argument, it was that the previous Imperial tariff system was probably better ,for us for the reasons TW gave ,than the EU tariff system, which we got lumbered with after our American allies sabotaged the Imperial system. Your attempts to explain world trade from your shopping in Cirencester is quite touchingly simple-minded. Please do not lose this child- like sense of wonder ,so precious in a horrid grown-up world of tariffs, quotas, import licences and world history. If you can buy NZ lamb for your dinner this proves that the EU and its silly quotas don’t matter!

  34. @DBC ha ha – your raw nerves are poking through your sleeve again.

    Look, you dickhead, you said you couldn’t “source” food from New Zealand, I just pointed out you can.

    (And, further, that despite the tariffs, of which we are all very well aware, you can do so cheaper than you can from 50 miles away. Which ain’t exactly a tragic example of how unfree trade, regrettable as it genuinely is, starves us all.)

    How does LVT fit not this anyway?

  35. @ Intelligent for Cirencester (lets see if flattery works) I was n’t saying you personally could n’t get some scrummy lamb from nice Mr Waitrose at his lovely shop where there’s no nasty rough working class types ( I though,t from previous attempts to extol the merits of Resale Price Maintenance , that Tesco’s was de rigeur round here.) I was saying there was a system in place called the EU tariff and import quota system which made trading with ,and sourcing from, the old Empire not a practical proposition any more on a mass scale.
    Glad you’re thinking about LVT ,it makes the brain hurt I know, but if Uncle Tim from Bath says its alright its nothing to worry about is it now? (As I have had to say before, I am not a monomaniac I can bore away on a vast range of subjects: I have just slipped in a new one called the Americans kiboshed our Commonwealth Common Market and left us nowhere to go. Hope you like it. Have to go now: too bored to go on.)

  36. I really don’t know what it is you’re struggling with, DBC, but I’ll try again.

    You are *wrong*.

    It’s not just about me and my local Waitrose – that was to help you think it through, something you seem sadly unable or unequipped to do.

    The UK imports *much more* lamb from New Zealand than from any other country.

    Download a pdf of Eblex

  37. I really don’t know what it is you’re struggling with, DBC, but I’ll try again.

    You are *wrong*.

    It’s not just about me and my local Waitrose – that was to help you think it through, something you seem sadly unable or unequipped to do.

    The UK imports *much more* lamb from New Zealand than from any other country.

    Download a pdf of the Eblex 2012 Sheep Yearbook (link at the end).

    Go to page 18.

    Tables 7.2 and 7.3 deal with imports of fresh/frozen sheep meat and offal by source during the years 2009-2011 (inc).

    During that time, the UK imported 304,800 tonnes of fresh or frozen sheep meat

    – of which 272,000 tonnes came from non-EU sources

    – of which 224,900 tonnes *came from New Zealand*.

    224,900 is roughly *74 per cent* of 304,800.

    For offal, the figures are 40,500 tonnes, of which 30,900 comes from New Zealand.

    Quite how you think importing three quarters of something from NZ equates to it not being practical to trade with

  38. …not being practical to trade with the Old Empire I simply do not know.

    I can only conclude that you are stupid, or cannot read, or haven

  39. Quite how you think importing three quarters of something from NZ

    Not quite a true statement. The same report shows local production being approximately 3 times total imports. So NZ imports represent 3/4 of a 1/4, or about 19% of the market. Still significant, but it’s possible to imagine that tariffs might be depressing that figure and supporting local production.

  40. Lvt, I meant three quarters of what we import, as I thought was clear from my context (it’s only possible to assume I meant *of all the lamb we eat* if you assume I don’t know there’s such a thing as British lamb). But I suppose I could have been clearer.

    The local production is by dint of vast rolling acres of Wales and Scotland, not tariffs, and in fact is falling, as is consumption of domestic lamb (from 11.5kg per capita per annum in the early 60s to 4.6kg in 2011).

    That said (and I’m against tariffs as I hope most people here are), I was just explaining to Dim Bloody Commie that, contrary to his idiot statement, it *is* “practical” to import from NZ, because we *do*, in the thousands of tonnes.

    In fact, we are still their largest single customer, taking around 20% of their exported lamb.

    I prefer Welsh to NZ, actually.

  41. It was perfectly clear what you meant. And I agree with you. But although your figure was correct, it’s meaningless without a comparison as to how much of the market imports make up. If you imported 2% of consumption and 75% of that was from NZ, would that be important? Of course not. Equally, I ignored your thousand of tonnes figures because they lacked context too. What if consumption was in the millions of tonnes? You’re correct in substance, but your arguments suck.

    Speaking of context, I live in Australia, so the “vast rolling acres of Wales and Scotland” are what I would regard as a smallish sheep station, or maybe the minimal size for a wheat/barley/canola farm. We tend to talk in hundreds or thousands of acres. See? Context is everything.

  42. Well, correct in substance suits me. I accept that my argument would “suck” if we imported 2% of consumption – but we don’t, so it doesn’t.

    My uncle would be my aunt if he had tits.

    And – again – all I was actually doing was proving this dick Reed wrong on the practicalities. Almost regardless of consumption, if its cheaper (which it is) and we import near enough 100,000 tonnes of the stuff a year, it is not “impractical” to do.

    You do have some big acreage in Aussie, but I expect the food value per hectare is better on a wet Welsh hill? Though that’s a guess. We do ok, anyway.

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