Well, yes, we do

Well, that may be true, but only so long as you subscribe to the mantra of unfettered global trade in food.

It’s been making Britons richer since the repeal of the corn laws. Thus we think it’s a good idea.

For me, it seems glaringly obvious that agriculture should not and must not be treated like any other industry.

Says the small scale organic farmer in Wales…..

Me, me, Me, MEEE!

For a start, let’s insist on the introduction of a fair trade milk label for family dairy farmers and include the requirement that the herd size be no larger than their capacity to walk to grass twice a day during the grazing season. This would reverse the trend towards ever-larger herds.

Let’s have a bloke with a red flag walking in front of these newfangled cars.

Of course, you can do whatever you want as a voluntary scheme but that’s perhaps not quite how you see it, is it?

Patrick Holden is the founding director of the Sustainable Food Trust


37 thoughts on “Well, yes, we do”

  1. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Rent-seeker seeks rent. Quelle surprise.

    Is there anything to back up the contention that milk sourced from outside the UK is any mankier than the homegrown equivalent? Is it riddled with brucellosis or Agent Orange? If not then Farmer Swampy can sod off.

  2. Curiously George Monbiot is waging a war against (largely) sheep in the pages of the Guardian, arguing that hill farming is unproductive, and leads to upland areas having no biodiversity and, being deforested, causing flooding in lowland areas/towns where we sensible people live. He wants re-wilding, rather than subsidising hill farmers who produce bugger all food (and earn bugger all) to cause environmental devestation.

    So Worstall/ASI and he are on the same side for once.

  3. Luke, in order to set the ground for his rewilding, of course he needs to get rid of the potential livestock that will be preyed upon.

    What he’ll do about ramblers, I’ve no idea. Put them down as a necessary sacrifice?

  4. @Bloke in Costa Rica: Depends how fresh you like it. Or if you mind the taste of UHT milk.

    Organic farming numpties like to think they are on the side of the environment, even though if we did try and feed the world using organic farming we would probably have to eviscerate most of the remaining natural eco-systems of the planet in order to provide the land for it.

    And don’t get me started on the stupidity of organic cotton clothes coloured with organic dyes.

  5. @JuliaM: A lot of the ramblers that I know are organic eating homeopathic medicine types. So at least the wild carnivores will not be eating any unnatural preservatives or chemicals.

    Of course the gortex packaging might be an issue for them….

  6. The whole edifice is built on the fact that non-organic food might have chemicals in it. Chemicals!

    You can’t argue with superstition.

  7. Foreigner moves into hill farming area, uses his public position of power to lobby against hill farming. I bet he is very popular amongst his neighbours.

  8. And it is neither a ‘mantra’ nor unfettered. If anyone is uttering mantras it is him.

    The irony is that the closer you get to his ideal state of small, inefficient farmers and no food imports the less ‘sustainable’ it becomes, in the sense of sustaining the population. It works brilliantly at sustaining his income however.

  9. Another example of the authoritarian mindset of many Greens. I’m sure there are free market Eco-types out there. Be good to see them making their voices heard.

  10. I really don’t know what these milk farmers think is going to happen.

    The world of internet hosting used to be full of little companies, then people worked out how to scale up the operations. And little guys with a few customers (like me) couldn’t charge £25/month for hosting. So, we either accepted that our nice little earner was gone, or if we were doing it full-time, found something better to do. No-one ever cried any tears for all the people making PCs in the 90s who got wiped out by the scale of Dell.

    Don’t like the money in milk farming? Learn to fucking type.

  11. bloke (not) in spain

    Monbiot’s in favour of “wilding” upland areas is he? Does he mean wilding? Far as I know, upland areas weren’t particularly forested before the “unwilding” sheep. They were grazed off by deer & that & looked very much like they do now. Before the deer were hunted out.

  12. Monbiot has a preference for a particular type of landscape for which as BiS says there is only disputed evidence for it ever having existed. The upland landscape that Britain has now is the product of several millennia of varied human activity and in that time will have changed constantly, to a greater or lesser extent, variations in the climate adding a further complication. His basic premise seems to be that humans are some kind of alien introduced species and that anything they do to the landscape must be bad. His vision of the supposedly rewilded uplands is to my mind a product of the Romantic movement and not the English version of it either, more Germanic. English Romanticism has always put humans at the centre of landscape either as meditative observers, the Lakeland poets say or the paintings of Samuel Palmer or as workers on the land inspired by the beauty around them, like John Clare. Misanthropic visions of the wildwood completely devoid of human input give me the creeps.

  13. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Thornavis: there’s even a plausible* evolutionary psychology explanation for why we like the sort of landscapes you tend to see depicted in paintings. It would be bloody typical if Mongbiot was agin this sort of thing, weird monomaniacal Eeyorish professional miserablist that he is.

    * plausible, mind; no idea if it’s true and it has a bit of a ring of the Just So Story about it, but still

  14. Apparently one of the conditions of the Greek bailout is that they remove protectionist “quality” restrictions on milk, and move into line with the rest of the single market.

  15. BiCR

    Yes, I’ve been aware of the evolutionary aesthetics approach for some time and it certainly makes sense to me, although as you say with this kind of thing it’s never easy to sort out fact from speculation. We might even see this approach as itself an aspect of romanticism given a scientific gloss.

  16. I finally found the time to read the article.

    The guy runs a farm at a loss but it is OK because he has a day job that makes enough money to cover the loss.

    So he has a real job but a hobby which milks 80 cows and make cheese.

    I would have more respect if he just called for break time milk to be reintroduced for school children.

    Question to the blog readers: Did any of you receive the milk before Maggie withdrew it? From what I understand it was the most horrible rancid milk that you could imagine.

  17. Salamander

    Yes I’m of the milk receiving generation, I couldn’t stand it. I thought that was just me as all the other kids seemed to like it, i wouldn’t touch milk on its own for years after. Then one hot day I was really thirsty and thought I’d have another go and was pleasantly surprised, so I suspect that perhaps school milk really was as ghastly as you suggest.

  18. Did any of you receive the milk before Maggie withdrew it? From what I understand it was the most horrible rancid milk that you could imagine.

    One third of a pint. Delivered by Co-Op Dairies. Bottles. No refrigeration. Drunk through straws. Unwashed empties back in the crate for collection early afternoon. Ghastly.

  19. Shit, how starving and malnourished were kids back thento drink it and hold it down?

    And how can socialism fuck up milk?

  20. Yep, I am old enough to have been forced to drink that repulsive, warm, school milk. Nice hot summer’s day, it had been sitting in the sun for a couple of hours…

    No wonder kids were alway being “bilious” as we called it back then. Maggie’s cancellation of it was an act of pure kindness to us.

  21. Agriculture gets a range of subsidies already, 85/GBP per acre just to be agricultural, the buildings get an exemption from business rates, the land is exempt from inheritance tax, and that cheap red diesel.
    And George Moanbiot wants to keep all that lot for landowners who take it out of production for rewilding, at which point he goes down in our estimation.
    I’d prefer to get rid of that 85/GBP per acre subsidy and take Moanbiot out of production.

  22. The milk quality was OK; ours was stored in deep shade in a cool courtyard. Even in high summer it didn’t get warm in the time it spent there. I’m sure of this because warm milk always made me gag.

    In winter it was frozen right through, and had to be thawed on a radiator. This took hours.

  23. @ salamander
    Tortoises are also organic-eating vegetarians and walk as fast as most Ramblers.
    However the badger is the largest remaining carnivore in the UK and is nocturnal so unlikely to catch and eat any Rambler.

  24. @ Ian B
    I was the second-largest child in the class when they started me on school milk: I was the second-smallest when they let me off. I don’t like being dictated to – you may draw your own conclusions.

  25. They used to stick the crate of school milk on top of a storage heater at my primary school. So it was always revolting. I mean what were they thinking? You couldn’t have picked a worse spot if you tried. I have come to the conclusion that teachers were (and maybe still are, who knows?) sadists.

  26. However the badger is the largest remaining carnivore in the UK and is nocturnal so unlikely to catch and eat any Rambler.

    Apart from all those ABCs on the loose, so they tell us.

    One of my nephews got a bit lost on the Downs a year or two back around twilight and stumbled on a foraging Badger, he swears it chased him for some distance.

  27. Julia,
    I haven’t followed Georgeous George too closely – I think he’s in favour of lynx (to keep the deer down) and boar, and is relaxed if the odd rambler snuffs it. I think the livestock would all disappear/die if it wasn’t subsidised.

    I’m in favour of boar if you shoot them and I can eat more. Probably one of the few things we agree about.

  28. Wild Boar have found their own way back into the English woodlands without any help from rewilding, Little Egrets are now almost as common as Herons, Buzzards have recolonised Eastern England, I now see them over my urban allotment and Otters have also recovered thanks to cleaner rivers. Wildlife will occupy any habitat it can if it’s left alone, there’s no need for barmy George and his like to go around reshaping the landscape for them.

  29. Milk is and was disgusting. Hard to believe I used to drink it as a child. The smell and taste of it now makes me want to gag. As for the smell of milk in hot coffee…

    Love cheese though, the stronger the better. Mature Brie…yum yum.

  30. Ukraine and Libya
    The breadbaskets of the bread and circuses
    If they ever get their act together…

  31. That milk! Christ, yes! I thought it was just me. I couldn’t drink milk for years afterwards. I still remember the taste and the smell: Like a butcher’s block.

    OTOH, this would have been no earlier than 1975, so I might complaining about milk of the post-milk-snatcher era…

  32. Bloke in Costa Rica

    For me, milk has to be ice-cold. The smell of warm milk nauseates me; actually drinking it will make me projectile vomit.

  33. Bloke not in Cymru

    To this day I can’t drink a glass of milk without feeling ill.
    The recent leak of the teams Pacific trade treaty showed that the U.S. Wants access to Canadian markets for milk.

  34. Yeah, don’t like to drink milk either, though not sure school milk is the reason.

    I do personally think that food is a special case: it is kind of a mainstay of civilisation, so I wouldn’t want to completely outsource it to Foreign, even if Foreign is (currently) cheaper.

  35. Dear Mr Worstall

    One of the 3 employees at the Sustainable Food Trust is on £90,000-100,000 in 2014 – not bad for a business charity set up in 2012. I wonder who that might be.

    Most of its income is from the Delaware registered Sustainable Food Alliance, the charitable arm of the US Sustainable Food Trust set up in 2011. No accounts that I can find. Their chief executive is Patrick Holden.

    Arguing for taxpayer subsidy of hobby farmers to maintain his lifestyle seems very Gaurdian.

    Friends who were tenant farmers with a dairy herd of a size to gladden Mr Holden’s heart, were delighted when the estate came up for sale about 20 odd years ago. They clubbed together with the other tenants and bought it. They flogged their fields and buildings to the neighbours, sold the house and were glad to give up the hobby business.


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