Bugger the farmers

Tough mammary gland mateys:

Farmers fear they will face a flood of cheap imports undercutting high-standard British produce, and the potential for the EU to ban UK-produced food if standards were relaxed.

We ought, should, be regulating for the benefit of consumers. If no consumers want this cheap shit then they’ll not buy it if available. Therefore it’s not a problem. If consumers do buy it that means they want it. Therefore, given that they want it, it should be available.

That you want to ban it is proof that you think consumers want it. And so, well, why should you be allowed to ban what people want?

47 thoughts on “Bugger the farmers”

  1. I quite look forward to test this horrible acid washed chicken, the idea of not having to bleach my kitchen after I’ve handled chicken fascinates me. The chicken breasts I buy from a supermarket seem reasonably priced to me, and also 2x 600g for £7 from Morrisons, £6-8 per kilo for excellent steak mince.

  2. Here in Sweden we have Swedish beef side-by-side with Irish. Swedish costs 50% more, but it’s often sold out while the Irish remains (don’t know about actual quantities, I’m afraid). The culture here is very much support the local farmers if you can, and Swedish farmers have done a good job in promoting the quality of their produce. My SO gets upset if I come home with the Irish.

    This should be the UK’s approach too.

  3. Dennis is organising bands of roving vigilantes to take out any chlorinated chickens so we should be safe from that particular scourge.

    This is essential because UK customers are incapable of looking at labels and deciding what to buy.

  4. There is no problem finding cheap food produced to fairly low standards. There is no problem finding good food produced to high standards. Let’s file this under protectionism.

  5. and the potential for the EU to ban UK-produced food if standards were relaxed

    If its made/animals kept to eu standards, why wouldn’t the farmers be able to sell to the Eu? (political buggery aside)
    Same as selling to any other external market isn’t it…?

  6. I have a vague memory, from when the US chlorine chicken debate first surfaced, that the EU food safety body had approved chlorine-washed chicken for sale to EU consumers, but the ruling was reversed by an EU political decision in order to protect EU (read French) chicken producers.

    Or was I just dreaming?

  7. “high-standard British produce”

    Why do people repeat this? I’ve eaten lamb in Egypt, chicken in the USA. Tastes exactly the fucking same as the stuff here. It’s a quadruped, put in a field that eats grass. You want it to taste better, you either hang the meat for longer, cure it properly or use a rare breed animal. There’s already a market for those products.

    The problem with most farmers is that their stuff is no better than anyone else’s.

  8. Just as long as the rules for food produced here are the same as the stuff imported, I’m fine with cheap imports. Just don’t expect UK farmers to fight cheap imports with our hands tied behind our backs. If GM foods, and useful chemicals are banned here, then don’t allow imports produced abroad using them. Similarly if animal welfare or environmental rules state X in the UK, then imported meat should abide by the same standard. Thats all we ask, a level playing field.

  9. An even better trick, HD, would be to allow irradiation as a means of protection from infection. Then point out that EU farm produce is denied this life-saving treatment.

    Or do we do use radiation anyway nowadays?

    Tell the public that it’s like using UV light but even better. Which, roughly speaking, is true.

  10. “I have a vague memory”

    Yeah I think that’s true, I remember it being a political and not a technical decision too. If I had more time I would google for you.

    Given that we chlorine-wash our salads (and even ourselves when we go swimming) I never thought this was a particularly defensible objection to opening food trade with the US. Maybe there are standards we don’t want to accept but this isn’t one of them.

    But it becomes a useful marker for determining who talks BS on the subject. People freaking out about it either have little knowledge or are deliberately trying to scare.

  11. “Research from the European Food Safety Authority—an EU agency—has found “no safety concerns” with treating slaughtered chicken with chlorine. That said, it and other bodies have also said this practice might not be sufficient for maintaining good hygiene standards throughout the slaughter process.”

    So, yes, perfectly safe.

    The cop-out bit at the end about “might not be sufficient” could be applied to just about any process. There are no safety concerns over washing slaughtered chickens with chlorinated water but if you then smear the carcass with anthrax, it could be dangerous.

  12. It’s a quadruped, put in a field that eats grass.

    Odd sort of chicken. I’d miss the wings.

    Just as long as the rules for food produced here are the same as the stuff imported, I’m fine with cheap imports.

    You’re probably not going to be fine then. Britain has exported great swathes of manufacturing to places which do not suffer the same power costs and which pollute like crazy. If we’re happy with exporting manufacturing to place which don’t look after humans, we’re not going to bat an eye about what happens to foreign chickens.

    Having said that, British supermarkets are already full of cheap (and utterly shit) Danish bacon produced with much lower welfare standards. I’m sure there’s other similar crap from different place. Opening trade to the Yanks is not going to make a massive difference, even we assume they are only going to export hormone and chemical-addled filth. The cheap meat-eating plebs already have moobs anyway….

    If it helps, I’ll still be buying top end, free range, slow grown and well aged British produce when I’m in the country. It’s one of the joys of the time spent back in Blighty.

  13. There was a discussion on one of the news channels about washing chickens in lactic acid (the stuff your own body produces when you exercise), and it was real horrorshow: I mean, ACID!
    Presumably the people making the comments never put acetic acid on their chips or citric acid on their pancakes. And if lactic acid is so bad I guess they’re not fans of yoghurt either.

  14. ‘We ought, should, be regulating for the benefit of consumers.’

    Problems with regulation #58: Government picking sides.

  15. Farmers fear a flood of lower priced imports produced to different but equivalent standards undercutting their overpriced produce. The slur that nobody can produce and offer product less expensive except because of lower standards lacks supporting evidence.

    Haven’t we been eating lamb from NZ and Australia for years? Wasn’t Argentina an important source of beef prior to 1973? Having travelled frequently to the US, I can attest their steaks and burgers are excellent as is their chicken and turkey.

    I don’t see front pages filled with reports of people dropping like flies in other Countries from substandard foods.

    And where was it that horse meat entered the food chain pretending to be beef, and nobody knows for how long? Was that the EU?

  16. “I don’t see front pages filled with reports of people dropping like flies in other Countries from substandard foods.”

    Its not that food from abroad is substandard, its not. Its that the rules and regulations in this country make it far more expensive to produce here. For example, if a beef animal dies on the Argentinian pampas, they leave it where it dies and let the wild animals clean it up. If a beef animal dies on a UK farm by law it has to be disposed of by incineration. Which is expensive, and adds to the cost of UK produced beef.

    Thus my argument is that if the UK public don’t like dead animals littering the countryside here, and outlaw it, they shouldn’t be benefiting from littering the Argentinian countryside with dead animals either. If beef should not be produced without disposing of the deadstock properly, that should go wherever its produced, not just the UK.

    The same goes for all manner of other controls and constraints on UK production – animal welfare rules, environmental laws, laws on what chemicals can be used etc etc.

  17. You seem to be denying comparative advantage, Jim. I’d imagine the reason dead animals aren’t a problem in Argentina is there’s a lot more Argentina. I’ve a friend who’s family cattle farm over the border in Brazil. Their land would make a fair slice of an English county. They need a plane to get around. . But you get the advantage of having a town a short drive away. Shops, a decent hospital & an ambulance service if you need it All the benefits of a densely populated country. The absence of those are their disadvantages. Their costs.

  18. “The same goes for all manner of other controls and constraints on UK production – animal welfare rules, environmental laws, laws on what chemicals can be used etc etc.”

    You have no sense of futility?

  19. “The problem with most farmers is that their stuff is no better than anyone else’s.”

    Not strictly true, given the difference in taste between various breeds, let along the landscape that grows them, or their feed. I’ve a number of producers that provide exceptional beef/lamb/pork/chicken, much of which in part is down to finessing feed. Even among the same producers, same breed and location, the taste can differ from animal to animal. I accept the quality and subtlety of taste will be wasted on many, and in truth it usually costs, but it’s nice to know producers are prepared to go the extra mile if there’s a market.

  20. You seem to be denying comparative advantage, Jim. I’d imagine the reason dead animals aren’t a problem in Argentina is there’s a lot more Argentina.

    That, and there are natural predators (bears, wolves) left in Argentina that will deal with a random dead cow fairly quickly. The most dangerous thing we have is a fox or a badger. Would take them a while to dispose of a cow.

  21. Gamecock
    ‘We ought, should, be regulating for the benefit of consumers.’

    Problems with regulation #58: Government picking sides.

    Problems with regulation #59: Sides vying to buy off and influence government to the detriment of other sides.

  22. Tell you what, let’s toss the farmers some sort of crust on these complaints while levelling up the playing field within the UK by removing the Agricultural Property Relief from Inheritance Tax. Fair’s fair?

    P.S. The Range Rover barb is not all that well aimed – cramped little cars they are. OK for squirts, short arses and women, I suppose.

  23. Looks like a least one UK farmer wants to ban imported foodstuffs from places where you can hire a 15 year old or work a 54 hour week or have only a week’s paid holiday a year or where the planning system is easy or you can run some of your farm mech on ethanol. Where would you draw the line.
    US chicken is cheap because the feed is so cheap, an input subsidised by the Federal government. So the UK is going to withdraw its subsidies gradually. So the logic is that we ban US imports because we don’t want US taxpayers subsidising our food.
    This is not a route I’d want to go down.
    I want foreigners to subsidise me, if that’s what they want to do. And the land owners can lobby to be allowed to do new things with their land. We like innovation. I don’t want people saying they want to be entitled to have the same allowances as foreigners. That’s not innovative.
    Yes to GM by the way, and taking land out of agriculture.

  24. Chernyy-Drakon: “That, and there are natural predators (bears, wolves) left in Argentina …”

    Neither, actually (the maned wolf is more akin to a fox on stilts and loves fruit)! Try jaguar, ocelot and puma. Plus smaller carnivores like foxes and viverrids.

  25. Spending a few months in France – coincidentally avoiding the HK plague panic – I note that French chickens are generally the worst of their ag products on a global relative basis. Beef good, lamb, veal etc. All bought from the local markets and all good. But the Chickens? Tasteless, scrawny with big legs and not much in the way of chest. Feel free to make the obvious jokes.

  26. “Tell you what, let’s toss the farmers some sort of crust on these complaints while levelling up the playing field within the UK by removing the Agricultural Property Relief from Inheritance Tax. Fair’s fair?”

    As long as you pay CGT on any gain from the sale of your house and all business owners lose their business property relief at the same time, fair enough.

  27. French food produce tends to divide between the high end (very good, although arguably not worth the mark-up) and mass-produced (not very good). So Poulet (or Pigeonneau) de Bresse is as good as anything you’ll find anywhere (and priced accordingly); supermarket chicken is not as good (or as cheap) as you’d find in your local Morrisons or Aldi; chicken from the local market can be a bit hit or miss, partly depending on the region you’re in.

  28. @Julia

    There are spectacled bears in Argentina. While mostly plant eaters, they do easy meat and have been known to eat domestic cattle.
    So while it isn’t a big problem, i was technically correct – the best kind of correct. 😉

  29. We do need regulations to protect the farming industry for health, food security, animal welfare, and supporting rural communities.

  30. “As long as you pay CGT on any gain from the sale of your house and all business owners lose their business property relief at the same time, fair enough.” Agreed.

    Mind you, I’d allow index-linking of gains like wot we used to have.

  31. When politicians say they want to ban food imports that don’t comply with UK regs/standards, what would they actually allow in bearing in mind other countries will have different regs?

    How would a US producer get certification, if they so sought it, that their produce complied with UK standards? They could obviously (hopefully) produce evidence they complied with US standards, but if that wouldn’t be recognised as equivalent, then what? Is there a “UK regs compliant” version of private inspectors somewhat akin to the “kosher rules compliant” inspectors you can pay to get kosher-certified? How does it work? Or would it basically boil down to “we aren’t importing anything from countries with non-compatible regs even if the producer actually meets our regs since we won’t accept any evidence of it”?

  32. @Raffles

    Similar in UK is Lamb – British or cheaper New Zealand

    Some say British tastes better

    @Davidsb

    Yes, EU deem it safe, but EU won’t approve its sale. Chlorine washed fruit & veg is allowed to be sold

    @Jim

    Support you on over regulated UK

    “Level playing field” – leaks imply Johnson is surrendering to EU on this and CFP

    @PF

    “… sheep put in a field/hill and eats grass.”

    Don’t know about RoW, but in British Isles it’s true as no predators

    @dearieme

    afaik irradiated fruit & veg is EU approved. It was sold in Madeira when I was there

    @Oblong

    “and even ourselves when we use tap water” FTFY

    @John B

    Argentina beef rings a bell, but most from Brazil whom we still buy from

    @Chernyy_Drakon

    You’d be surprised how quickly other mammals, birds & insects devour a dead cow/sheep

  33. @Mr Womby

    No surprise. Uneducated are easily manipulated to be scared, that’s why Left keep schools sh1t – SNPland leading the way in becoming worse

    Australia not far behind
    “One of the questions graduating teachers were struggling with involved finding the annual income based off weekly pay.

    The reason they were unable to answer the question was they didn’t know many weeks were in a year
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8034423/Aspiring-teachers-graduating-university-without-basic-literacy-skills-failing-simple-test.html

    Yes, I passed the 1 minute quiz: 5/5

    Related:

    BBC: Back in Time to the Corner Shop E1/8

    @ ~30
    mins – How food imports from all over world reduced food prices and benefited poor

    Do BBC not see how history contradicts their current project fear narrative?

  34. If a cow dies in a field, just let the chickens eat it.
    Take them a while but a flock can eat quite a lot – and they don’t mind rotting flesh – they rather enjoy maggots.

    A flock of birds can strip a carcass pretty well. Add in insects and its sorted.

    Pity about the smell for a short time.

  35. “Tasteless, scrawny with big legs and not much in the way of chest. Feel free to make the obvious jokes.”

    Hillary Special at KFC: Two big thighs, two small breasts, and a left wing.

    I’ll get my coat.

  36. @PF

    Yes, I got it – field eats grass – was fixing

    Chickens: see Moy Park who grow ~1/3 of UK chickens, vertically integrated too
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyIBrAnbbgc

    One of their many factories produces 1.5 million fluffy yellow chicks per week. Sounds a lot, but UK chicken consumption is >80 million per week

    @Martin, Gamecock

    “Carrion eaters” – yes. Regulators seem to visualise a dead cow in their office, panic and think countryside is same sterile environment. They have no knowledge or understanding of nature

  37. Re: My Burning Ears

    When politicians say they want to ban food imports that don’t comply with UK regs/standards, what would they actually allow in bearing in mind other countries will have different regs?

    How would a US producer get certification, if they so sought it, that their produce complied with UK standards?

    Over here in NZ farmers often have different flocks that don’t mix (or at least did when my Uncle farmed sheep). An NZ flock for NZ and Aussie consumption, and an EU flock for EU consumption. They are kept separate and the EU flock reared and slaughtered under EU importation rules.

    The ideal scenario is a mutual recognition one whereby you both recognise each others rules as being equally as good; but even without this it isn’t too hard.

  38. @James

    Interesting thanks! How did they get it certified that the EU flock met EU rules, was there a certification agency of some kind?

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