Government tolerance of unfair trade imperils British food production by failing to deliver justice

 A friend who does not follow farming news in any detail singled out this graph on my computer and I had to say that a more up-to-date version would show even greater falls:

Farm income has fallen sharply on average in Britain and is reported to have plunged by more than 40% in a single year in Northern Ireland, leading to warnings that the industry is facing a crisis. The biggest ‘driver’ was a fall in dairy prices, which dropped by 27% to £480m. The figures were disclosed in a report published by NI’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. 

The BBC reports that some young people from these British farms are now being compelled to get jobs in agriculture overseas because – though their help is needed – their parents can’t pay them to stay at home and work on the family farm.

Ulster Farmers’ Union president Ian Marshall said “These grim income figures are a body blow for farming families – but they are also a body blow for the entire Northern Ireland economy. Almost £130m was taken out of the rural economy. That is money that would have been spent locally, meaning towns and villages across Northern Ireland will have felt the impact of hard times hitting the farming community.” 

Ulster Unionist agriculture spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson said the figures demonstrated the seriousness of the crisis: “Very few people in Northern Ireland would be able to tolerate a 41% wage cut, but yet that is what our local farms have effectively been hit with”. 

In Britain as she says, the sheer scale of the collapse in farm incomes offers a stark warning that each administration’s department of agriculture should – however belatedly – intervene to address the damaging impacts of unfair prices from processors and retailers. 

For more information go to the Gosling Report. ‘On the eve of destruction’.





2 responses to “Government tolerance of unfair trade imperils British food production by failing to deliver justice

  1. The other night I was lying in bed reading some old issues of Resurgence. By old I mean early 1987. There was a wonderful article by Wendell Berry, American poet and farmer, called Defence of the Realm, a version of an essay from a collection of essays in a book titled Home Economics (pub. 1988). He speaks about all the small farmers who had settled, raised their families, grew food for the local people and whose children carried on farming. Then corporate vision took over. To quote:

    “In the 25 years after WW2, our farm people were driven off their farms by economic pressure at the rate of about 1 million a year. They are still going out of business at the rate of 1400 farm families per week, or 72,800 families per year. That the rate of decline is now less than it was does not mean that the situation is improving; it means that the removal of farmers from farming is nearly complete.”

  2. WD is good. See today’s adherent Helena Norberg-Hodge by Skype: conference – mentioned here:

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