Are readers content for their food to come from countries with less strict regulation – as long as it is cheap?
Private Eye (1412) notes that many dairy farmers now regret the passing of the Milk Marketing Board of low prices and price volatility. It continues by saying that in 1993, when the MMB was abolished, there were 40,000 dairy farmers: now there are 13,000 and the number is falling fast.
In the Financial Times today, Scheherazade Daneshkhu, Consumer Industries Editor reports that British farmers borrowed £17.8bn in 2015, driven by cash flow problems, due to the sharp drop in the price of milk, wheat and other commodities that have squeezed profits and hit incomes, according to the National Farmers Union. Average prices for milk and wheat have fallen more than 30% during the past two years, while pig-meat prices are at a six-year low.
Northern Ireland farmer William Taylor and colleagues from farming organisations have recommended the public to tell them if their food is not needed. But if they indicate this by failing to support the political campaigning undertaken by a wide range of food producers in that country, they will be foolishly short-sighted.
Once foreign suppliers have cornered the market – as our farmers move to other occupations – the prices will be whatever the suppliers want to make it.
Britain will be a captive market.