Tag Archives: Rural economy

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’.





Northern Ireland Farm Groups are gathering



Seeking a joint approach to the agricultural crisis

Northern Ireland farmers are invited to attend an open meeting with Northern Ireland’s politicians by the following farm organisations, Farmers For Action and Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association.

It will take place on Tuesday 27th October at 8pm in the Glenavon Hotel, Cookstown.

One politician from each political party, including Independents, have been invited to come along, give their views on beef, cereals, lamb, milk, pigs, potatoes, poultry, vegetables, followed by a question and answer session.

This will be your chance to tell the politicians in the lead up to the local election just how hard real life is becoming in rural Northern Ireland currently.

This meeting will be concluded by an explanation of the blueprint for Northern Ireland agriculture proposed by the above supporting farm organisations, which if put into legislation by Stormont would return Northern Ireland farmers a minimum of the cost of production plus a margin inflation linked across the staples and turn Northern Ireland from austerity and crisis to prudent prosperity.

We need your support, come along and hear the full story!

NI agriculture is in crisis

Have your say

William Taylor, NI Farm Groups co-ordinator

56 Cashel Road, Macosquin, Coleraine, BT51 4NU

Tel. 028 703 43419 / 07909744624 Email taylor.w@btconnect.com

Planning “as if fields of crops were completely useless, and not the very food we eat”


land use geoffSo says Geoff Tansey in an article on his website.

Nick Boles, the planning minister, is said to have declared that “building more homes would create more human happiness than fields full of crops” — Melissa Kite comments: “as if fields of crops were completely useless, and not the very food we eat”.

The changes recently made in planning laws are seen as a ‘disaster for the countryside’ by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which appears to object to such building largely on aesthetic grounds, but rightly points out that wherever possible, it is generally better to use already developed urban land and buildings than to build on green fields. They say:

“England currently has an estimated 63,000 hectares of previously developed land available for development, nearly half of it suitable for housing. Even at a relatively low density, this is enough for more than a million homes. Around 700,000 homes are currently empty; many more buildings are under-used.

“It usually takes less energy and fewer resources to refurbish existing buildings than to build new ones. As land and buildings are continually falling out of use, brownfield sites provide a renewable resource. CPRE believes we need to tap this potential . . .”

Land as ‘a lucrative investment for hedge funds and greedy speculators’

A dairy farmer who wrote to this site had been listening to a chap from Savills (estate agents) on BBC R4 today programme discussing land as opportunity for those seeking investment growth:

”He said the opportunity was in capital value of the land, not the output and there was little relation between what could be earned from the value of the land and what could be earned from production.

”My view is that ordinary farmers who need the land to produce food to feed our population and support diverse sustainable employment opportunities for the next generation within rural communities must not be outnumbered by hedge funds and greedy speculators who buy and sell to suit their portfolios and don’t really care what happens to the land or the rural economy as long as they can protect and increase their own investment.