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Adam Duguid

Perhaps more destructive has been the underlying mentality of Labour towards agriculture - that we don't really need it and we can import more cheaply the foodstuffs which we require. This has lead to a dramatic decline in our national self-sufficiency in temperate foods at a time when more and more emphasis has been placed on food miles and the threat of international terrorism. Furthermore, the urban mentality and complete failure to comprehend farming as a business has led to the gold-plating of European legislation on livestock welfare. This has decimated the pig industry where the stall and tethering of pigs was abolished well before it has been phased out in the rest of the E.U. Result - supermarkets import cheap pork and bacon from Holland and Denmark which undercuts welfare-friendly British prodcuts which now have to be sold below the cost of production. The destruction of the dairy industry is well recorded but it is perhaps worth adding that the industry has been squeezed so hard that there is now a milk shortage due in part to rocketing Asian demand and the price of milk is now soaring. If the supply chain had been a little fairer in the last decade we would have 20-25% more milk production and now no shortage. As a dairy farmer who stuck it out in the bad times I am not complaining, though!

1AM

I can see how Labour are piling up pointless regulation must be reversed.

However, while I can see how much of the rest of this article might be good on the doorstep I fail to see what relevance much of it has elsewhere...

E.G.
"Under Labour 31% of farming households are living below the UK poverty line. The average farmer earns less than £14,000, half the amount a farmer earned in 1997 and nearly half of farms have a net farm income of less than £10,000."

I have to say, that this is mostly due to global markets (and is despite the disaster of the CAP) and as Conservatives it is not our job to interfere. Perhaps we need to help farmers have an 'exit strategy' due to the difficulties they face but we should not prop up an industry which already costs around £500 a year in subsidies etc. to the average family.

If anything it shows you can't 'buck the market' - in the long term farming in the UK is doomed (unless it is done to beautify the countryside). The CAP proves that no matter how much money you pour down the drain, in the long run, if an industry is becoming more and more uncompetitive, the worst thing you can do is pretend to people that a few more government hand outs will solve all their problems.

christina

Farmers - with incomes as you illustrate - have lost around £600m on this "Brown's disease".

The Eye today has a devastating and thoroughly well researched column in its Down on the Farm section it ends with - - - -
(FMD) has been an unmitigated disaster for the livestock industry, costing farmers an estimated £10m a day. The sole cause of this massive financial loss has been the incompetence of Mr Brown ‘s own government (compounded by its continuing refusal to allow the ring vaccination which could stop any spread of the disease dead in its tracks). Yet when Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, was asked on the Today programme if the government was prepared to pay compensation, he explained that there would of course be compensation for any farmer whose animals were slaughtered.

What Benn carefully didn’t say was that not a penny of compensation would be available for those thousands of other farmers all over the country who continue to lose £70m a week through the knock-on effect of movement restrictions and the like - thanks entirely to the failure of Mr Brown, Nr Benn and their underlings to do their job properly.

Richard Lacy


Why doesn't the Prime Minister take Peter Hain as his agricultural adviser? He was always very close to President Mugabe, the world famous African agrarian, and was one of his most fervent supporters, so he must surely have learned something of how to organise farming on true Socialist principles. He probably knows even more than that caravan woman, the computer expert, who has now drifted into retirement, presumably on an allotment somewhere.

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