One of the pieces of detail that we’ve got to keep an eye upon in these Brexit negotiations is what happens to farming. Do the members of the National Farmers Union get to suck off the public teat forevermore or do we go the full New Zealand and tell them to fend for themselves? Our answer around here is well enough known:
We have an alternative policy framework to suggest. Let’s just not have a policy. No subsidies, no payments, no department, no Minister, nothing, nowt, zippedy dooh dah. The New Zealand option. You’ve had it good for a century or more now there’s yer bike and have a nice ride.
We would not swear that this is true but we have heard that it is so – British farming has long passed Parkinson’s Event Horizon. There are now more bureaucrats “managing” farming than there are farmers farming. Let’s not pay the farmers anything and thus we don’t need the bureaucrats paying it – a double saving. Instead of £2 to £3 billion a year in taxes going to the farmers, plus whatever the amount again to pay it to them, we could just keep that what, £5 billion? And go and buy food from whomever.
Sounds like a plan really and we recommend it to all. Let’s use Brexit to right some of the wrongs of our current system. One of those wrongs being the incessant whining and demands for bribery from the farming sector.
The correct design of the new domestic agriculture policy is that there isn’t one. And nor is there any funding for either it or its absence. In short Meurig, go away.
This is not, you’ll be surprised to hear, the view of the current President of the NFU:
The National Farmers’ Union has told Theresa May she must treat the food industry as being of equal importance as the car sector, with special protections enshrined in new laws covering standards and production.
The NFU president, Minette Batters, said she had raised concerns in a phone call to the prime minister that food production was not at the heart of a new agriculture bill, the first major overhaul of legislation in the sector since the second world war.
There have been warnings of possible food shortages in Britain in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
“We told her food is no different to the car industry. Even if the production is safe, we need to protect our food production and our jobs,” Batters said. “Why should the shopper who has only £80 a week to feed a family of four be disadvantaged and not have the same quality of food as others as a result of Brexit?”
Now that is an interesting and useful question, isn’t it? British farmers gain some £3 billion a year in direct subsidies. And food prices are forced up by the system of tariffs which prevent much non-EU food being imported. Within EU food prices are some 117% of world food prices. So, each household coughs up perhaps £100 a year in direct taxation and pays some 20% – hey, rounding is allowed – more for their food to boot.
So that is an interesting question, isn’t it? Rounding again, the NFU President is asking why £80 a week? We can also ask, well, why not £60 a week instead of £80? By leaving the EU and adopting both free trade and free trade – buying without taxation from the world, not taxing in order to lavish farmers – we can make it so too. Brexit will make the average British household £20 a week better off as long as we tell the farmers to go boil their heads.
We could even say that those who prefer the quality can pay the £80, those who prefer £20 for tabs can also assuage their desires.
Thus we should, at Brexit, tell the farmers to go boil their heads. For the entire point of this economy thing is to make the average household better off.