Producing food: the staff of life

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Corporate-funded bean-counters and their political allies – more concerned with the production of balance sheets than food – are hoping to ‘reform’ the Common Agricultural Policy which takes 40% of the EU budget and distributes £3.1 billion a year to the UK’s farmers and rural economies.

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A DEFRA consultation is now underway, ending on Thursday 28th November to determine whether to transfer funds from the CAP budget for direct payments (Pillar 1) to fund rural development (Pillar 2). A report by Copa-Gogeca is recommended to readers unfamiliar with the subject – see an extract below.

CAP Pillar 1DEFRA ministers and environmental organisations are calling for the current 9% in modulation to be increased to 15% switched from food production to expand rural development and agri-environment schemes in England.

copa cogega CAP coverSome European governments have decided to do the opposite and NFU president, Peter Kendall, advocates an even administration of funds, creating a level playing field for food producers.

Significantly he also called for the creation of conditions so that farmers can earn a fair income from ‘the market’.

Kendall added that to date payments assisting rural development had been spent in questionable ways, including the provision of pantomime costumes for an amateur dramatic society.

sean rickardSean Rickard, who controversially describes himself as a respected independent economist, – witness the lavish praises of his students made available on Google images – advocates a ‘dedicated’ environmental and rural development policy.

He spoke about ‘wasting money on farming’ adding that a third of farmers would not survive but for CAP payments – which he said were propping up the inefficient. His approval is reserved for the efficient who produce food on a large scale. Minister George Eustice added that CAP should ‘deliver’ a competitive agriculture – no doubt competing to supply overseas markets and delight commodity speculators.

Playground Britain – import food, goods and tourists

tourism jobs & growth coverSuch politicians and their advisors will have an eye on tourism, said to be the fastest growing sector in the UK in employment terms, responsible for one-third of the net increase in UK jobs between 2010 and 2012.

A report by Deloitte was commissioned by VisitBritain, which is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to promote Britain worldwide and develop its visitor economy; it forecasts that the tourism economy will be worth around £127 billion this year (2013), equivalent to 9% of the UK’s GDP. It supports over 3.1 million jobs, 9.6% of all jobs and 173,000 more than in 2010.

A food security issue – the voice of commonsense

In Farming Today This Week, Charlotte Smith asked if we should do away with CAP payments altogether and force farmers to stand on their own two feet. Another rhetorical question asked why the farming sector expected support when no other industry did.

david hortonDavid Horton, a Devon dairy farmer, explained that the Single Farm Payment is a safety net keeping food production going despite unforeseen circumstances beyond control, such as severe weather and disease. It ensures that food production will continue year after year – and is vital to food security.

We add that farming is not just another sector of industry but the all-important sector whose products are essential to survival.

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