Well Boo Hoo For Ulster Farmers Over A No Deal Brexit

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Leaving the protection of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy is obviously enough going to be a shock for agricultural communities. Ulster’s farmers will have even more of a problem as they’re going to be competing with the Republic’s still subsidised farmers.

OK, well, so, what should we do about this? The correct answer being to sacrifice Ulster’s farmers for the greater good of all consumers. Because that’s what we should be doing – damn the producers it’s the consumer interest which should dominate. So, Boo Hoo and doesn’t it just suck is the correct answer here:

As president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), my last three years have been dominated by Brexit and what it means for farming families. More than 33 months on from the referendum all we have are unanswered questions and uncertainty. The threat of a no deal is still there. Parliament’s vote to reject a no-deal Brexit, and to seek an extension to article 50, are positive steps but the legislation is clear. If the UK does not agree an exit deal with the EU, we leave with no deal. This is a terrifying prospect for Northern Ireland farming families and their businesses. A no-deal Brexit would be a practical and logistical nightmare for our farm businesses. The no-deal tariff schedule, published by the UK government last week, gave an insight into what we are facing. A zero rate tariff on agricultural goods coming from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland would decimate farming here. It offers Ireland a tariff-free backdoor into the British market. This would wipe out any post-Brexit home market dividend for Northern Ireland farmers.

Yep, OK.

They would then take a double hit, with the reduction in UK tariffs bringing a surge in food imports from across the globe. Many imports will be produced at a lower cost thanks to poorer environmental, animal welfare and labour standards. This would leave our farmers uncompetitive and priced out of our biggest market. To add insult to injury, Northern Ireland, and the rest of the UK, would inevitably face tariffs on exports to Ireland and the rest of the EU member states. This would close key and long-standing trade routes. It would put farming families out of business and destroy Northern Ireland’s agriculture industry.

Let’s take that all as read. It isn’t true, obviously enough, for the EU’s subsidies come in the form of the single farm payment. That just raises the price of land for it’s a subsidy to the ownership of land. Get rid of it and the price of land will fall. Making farming less capital intensive and thus reducing input costs – also known as making it more profitable. But let’s leave aside reality and go with the whine here.

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So, what should we do about it? Tell ’em to suck it up:

Founded in 1918, the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is the largest democratic voluntary organisation representing farmers and growers in Northern Ireland. It’s central objective is to promote their interests both at home and abroad through professional lobbying. Today, the UFU has over 11,500 members.

Or maybe:

Currently, there are over 29,000 farmers in Northern Ireland

Or the government thinks 32,000.

How many people in the UK? Some 65 million perhaps? How many voted to leave? 17 million, something like that?

So, who wins here? 11,500 to 32,000 Northern Irish farmers or 17 million leave voters, 65 million consumers? It’s us out here isn’t it? The correct answer to Northern Ireland’s Brexit farming problems being “Yep, you’re right, you’re screwed. Any other questions?”

This is the democratic way you know, the majority wins.

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Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

I agree that CAP payments eventually end up in the pocket of the landowner. But to avoid abrupt dislocation, I’d favour the (proven successful) NZ approach of a straight-line reduction to zero over 5 years. It may be that we wish to continue some payments to farmers, to encourage the maintenance of the countryside, either for aesthetic or economic (tourism) reasons, but there’s no need to follow the ludicrous CAP.

HJ777
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HJ777

Indeed, Milton Friedman said that all import tariffs should be reduced to zero over a period of 5 years in order to give industries time to adapt.

Q46
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Q46

How about a tax on farmers to subsidise consumers.

While we are at it, tax all the companies and their workers who export to the EU, and use the money to subsidies consumers.

Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

It’s never occured to them to market their products on the basis of being home-grown products to compete with the perfiddious foreigners. Every time I walk past a MacDonald’s (I never go in) it’s plastered with “entirely British & Irish Beef and Potatoes!!!!”