A living, working countryside, not a museum.

David Cameron has made a strong and timely speech about the British countryside. I am glad that he has done so, I have quite a few friends who are from farming families and they feel totally screwed over by this government.

Clearly fox hunting is a high profile rural issue but it is the tip of the iceberg, from the handling of foot and mouth, the farce of the Rural Payments Agency, gold-plating of EU regulations, closure of rural post offices and cuts rural health provision the countryside feels at best ignored and at worst vilified by Labour.

Labour have treated the countryside very badly, as I said here, but the Conservatives have recently been painted as increasingly urban and many in the countryside have been worried that a Conservative government wouldn’t be any better. Today’s speech was a good opportunity to restate the Conservatives support for the country without detracting from the important work that needs to be done in cities.

By the way, buying veg from greenhouses in the UK is no harder than buying greens flown in from Africa and Asia, just look at the packaging. Buying British not only helps UK farmers but it helps the environment (by reducing food miles) and farmers in the developing nations who get put under huge financial pressure from the supermarket buyers. Good news all round.

12 responses to “A living, working countryside, not a museum.

  1. James, nice post but…… you are claiming that we can help farmers in developing nations by NOT buying their goods.

    There is no way that this is the case. Financial pressure from people buying your goods is preferable to the financial pressure of people not buying your goods, because then you get nothing- no money and go out of business. Or else you have to sell your goods at a lower price in a market with lower demand.

    Every time I want to help developing countries I hit the banana rack and coffee shelves and gorge myself. You should do the same.

  2. James, nice post but…… you are claiming that we can help farmers in developing nations by NOT buying their goods.

    There is no way that this is the case. Financial pressure from people buying your goods is preferable to the financial pressure of people not buying your goods, because then you get nothing- no money and go out of business. Or else you have to sell your goods at a lower price in a market with lower demand.

    Every time I want to help developing countries I hit the banana rack and coffee shelves and gorge myself. You should do the same.

  3. Jonny,

    Developing nations generally have enough demand in their local markets. The distortion of the world food market does little long term good to either the UK farmers or farmers in developing nations.

    Letting farmers in developing nations grow crops that are in demand locally rather than “cash crops” for western markets will also benefit the local consumers. I don’t believe in the “hair shirt” approach to life and I do buy stuff grown in the tropics but where I can buy British I do.

    Oh and scrap the CAP, it is a moral outrage.

  4. Jonny,

    Developing nations generally have enough demand in their local markets. The distortion of the world food market does little long term good to either the UK farmers or farmers in developing nations.

    Letting farmers in developing nations grow crops that are in demand locally rather than “cash crops” for western markets will also benefit the local consumers. I don’t believe in the “hair shirt” approach to life and I do buy stuff grown in the tropics but where I can buy British I do.

    Oh and scrap the CAP, it is a moral outrage.

  5. James,
    From the point of view of a seller there is nothing such as ‘enough demand’.

    Whether consumers in a developing country benefit from the isolation of food producers from global markets will depend very much on whether the consumers in question are producers themselves or depend for their livelihoods on the employment provided by such producers or on the spending power of those in the employment of such producers.

    There is also no guarantee that by refusing to buy goods from a 3rd world producer we will be ‘letting’ him produce for the local market. He may prefer to continue to export his cash crop (at lower prices) to, say, India.

    The moral case in your original post is thus less clear cut than indicated.

  6. James,
    From the point of view of a seller there is nothing such as ‘enough demand’.

    Whether consumers in a developing country benefit from the isolation of food producers from global markets will depend very much on whether the consumers in question are producers themselves or depend for their livelihoods on the employment provided by such producers or on the spending power of those in the employment of such producers.

    There is also no guarantee that by refusing to buy goods from a 3rd world producer we will be ‘letting’ him produce for the local market. He may prefer to continue to export his cash crop (at lower prices) to, say, India.

    The moral case in your original post is thus less clear cut than indicated.

  7. Before telling British consumers not to buy food from developing nations we should stop UK food producers dumping their products on the developing world and preventing their agricultural industry developing to provide staples in their countries. It is the CAP that is the moral outrage, scraping it is the only moral thing to do.

    With land prices as high as they as in Britain it does not make economic sense to grow most products in greenhouses in Britain rather than grown naturally in other parts of the world.

    I still blame the British farmers for poisoning us all by feeding sheep to cows and then selling us the BSE/CJD infected result. Too many British farmers do not care about the environment they only care about making a profit by exploiting animals and poisoning everything around them; rivers, animals, and consumers.

    If British farms can make a profit without subsidies then that is great, if not the farmers would be better getting productive jobs in other industries. It would also reduce the demand for migrant labour coming to this country. Surely we would be better growing food in Romania and Spain rather than England?

  8. Before telling British consumers not to buy food from developing nations we should stop UK food producers dumping their products on the developing world and preventing their agricultural industry developing to provide staples in their countries. It is the CAP that is the moral outrage, scraping it is the only moral thing to do.

    With land prices as high as they as in Britain it does not make economic sense to grow most products in greenhouses in Britain rather than grown naturally in other parts of the world.

    I still blame the British farmers for poisoning us all by feeding sheep to cows and then selling us the BSE/CJD infected result. Too many British farmers do not care about the environment they only care about making a profit by exploiting animals and poisoning everything around them; rivers, animals, and consumers.

    If British farms can make a profit without subsidies then that is great, if not the farmers would be better getting productive jobs in other industries. It would also reduce the demand for migrant labour coming to this country. Surely we would be better growing food in Romania and Spain rather than England?

  9. “Surely we would be better growing food in Romania and Spain rather than England”?

    Why? – we had a great food system in this country before the evil Common Market, sorry EUssr, mucked thigs up with CAP.

  10. “Surely we would be better growing food in Romania and Spain rather than England”?

    Why? – we had a great food system in this country before the evil Common Market, sorry EUssr, mucked thigs up with CAP.

  11. It is cheaper to grow food in countries with lower land costs and lower wages rather than having large numbers of migrant workers coming to work in England’s greenhouses and polybagged lands.

    Given that farmers are always complaining they are on the verge of bankruptcy opening them up to fair competition and taking away their subsidies will inevitably lead to the closure of all the worst farms in Britain.

  12. It is cheaper to grow food in countries with lower land costs and lower wages rather than having large numbers of migrant workers coming to work in England’s greenhouses and polybagged lands.

    Given that farmers are always complaining they are on the verge of bankruptcy opening them up to fair competition and taking away their subsidies will inevitably lead to the closure of all the worst farms in Britain.

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