The Idiocy Of Sir Nicholas Soames Over Farming And Imports

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Sir Nicholas is the laddie who was described unflatteringly by his first wife. Well, that’s not unusual in such cases, there usually is a reason why the digit is placed next to the description. But she did say that sex with him was like being fallen upon by a large wardrobe with a small key in the door. So, one bit of the Churchillian inheritance that didn’t make it through then.

He’s also spent a life in Parliament largely on the basis of being, vaguely, a Churchill. Nothing at all of the maverick there either, as this piece shows. Entirely conventional – and wrong – viewsviews:

Stand up for British farmers against a US invasion of chlorinated chicken and hormone-stuffed beef, says Winston Churchill’s grandson SIR NICHOLAS SOAMES in an urgent message to Ministers

The basic problem with the stance is that it is British consumers, not producers, that we should be defending. And the impact of cheaper food upon consumers is going to be positive, not something to be defended against. He opens with:

We are extraordinarily lucky in this country to be served by some of the most effective and efficient farmers in the world,

Which cannot even be true. UK food prices are higher than world. Therefore the people who produce and provide UK food – still largely, even if only just, farmers in Britain – are thus less efficient than other farmers elsewhere in the world.

British agriculture is renowned throughout the world for its productivity

Can’t be, can it?

So the question is, will Liz Truss and her Department for International Trade do their duty and stand up for British farmers and the public interest, and block the truly dismal prospect of chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef?

The thing being – if no one wants those chlorinated chicken and hormone fed beef then no one will buy it even if it is legal to import it. Thus, assuming that no one does want it, we do not need a legal ban upon it.

On the other hand, if people do want it and would buy it, why are we denying consumers that – or those – things that they want? The answer being that people like Sir Nicholas don’t think that the proles should be allowed to choose to have something that Sir Nicholas doesn’t think the proles should have.

Actual free trade allows all to gain what it is that they desire. Which is why the people who argue against free trade are those who insist they know better what people should have. Paternalists to be polite about it and oppressors to be im-.

It really is about time that these people grasped the basics of liberty. We free people out here, we consenting adults, we’ll decide what we want and when we want it, thank you. Personally and not collectively. If that turns out to be high farming standards and expensive food then so be it, if cheap as chips and bugger the animals then so be that too. For the game of politics is supposed to be about maximising our ability to pursue our own utility as we see fit – not imposing some moral standards upon us.

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Spike
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Spike

I swear to you that American farmers and meatpackers do not want British consumers to drink bleach, nor to kill them. British diners should evaluate our products in the usual ways, including taste and value, and should not be scared by startling descriptions of how we sterilize the product.

Sir Nicholas is not really “imposing moral standards,” is he? He is transferring wealth from one class of Brits to another, under implied threat of armed force.

Jim
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Jim

“Which cannot even be true. UK food prices are higher than world. Therefore the people who produce and provide UK food – still largely, even if only just, farmers in Britain – are thus less efficient than other farmers elsewhere in the world.” That does not necessarily follow. If the regulations on production that UK farmers must abide by are more onerous than elsewhere then they could indeed be more efficient than anyone else and still more expensive. I have no doubt that UK farmers could produce food as cheap as American ones if we had American laws. But we… Read more »

Spike
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Spike

Yes, the efficiency of British farming includes the inefficiency of British farm regulation. You say that if the UK want an inefficient farming industry, there is no reason individuals should be able to escape it. In fact, I see no way the UK voter could vote that would make British farming more efficient. The threat of killing the entire industry (by driving away consumers) is the only thing that moderates regulators.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

Because that’s not how it works. It’s extremely difficult to impose large costs on producers when they are exposed to free tarde, precisely because that will drive them out of business. That’s one of the unsung benefits of free tarde – it keeps the bureaucrats down. As for the idea that UK voters “want” the regulations bureaucrats impose, I’m not sure how most wold even be aware of them.

Jim
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Jim

” It’s extremely difficult to impose large costs on producers when they are exposed to free tarde, precisely because that will drive them out of business. ” But its the other way around. We already have the large costs imposed on us, and now we’re going to be exposed to the free trade. I can’t see the UK State repealing all the environmental and animal welfare and other restrictive legislation, so UK farming will be fucked. But of course the voters who vote for this stuff are protected from the consequences of their voting because they won’t suffer any hunger… Read more »

Jim
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Jim

“As for the idea that UK voters “want” the regulations bureaucrats impose, I’m not sure how most wold even be aware of them.”

Precisely, because they are protected from the consequences of the bureaucrats decisions, by getting cheap imports instead. If the consequence of more environmental rules etc meant food prices consistently went up in the shops every year then that would be a hot political issue, and parties would have to have a policy to deal with them, which hopefully could include repeal.

John B
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John B

You overlook ability to meet demand. UK has never been self-sufficient in food – it’s a small island with large parts not suitable for agriculture. UK farmers could not meet demand for beef even if legislation were to be relaxed, so imports will still be required. Now over 70% of beef is imported from the EU despite the same regulations. And even if UK & US regulations were the same, US farmers serve a domestic market five times bigger and benefit from the economies of scale – smaller margin on higher volume for example. The whole point of EU regs… Read more »

David Moore
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David Moore

Still amazes me that anyone who screams ‘chlorinated chicken’, does not connected this to ‘chlorinated water’.

John B
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John B

Or fluoridated water! Chlorine in water (or used on chicken) is a disinfectant, and in low concentration (or residue) to ensure no physiological effect in Humans, fluoride is medication in sufficient concentration designed to have a physiological effect in Humans.

Michael van der Riet
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Michael van der Riet

So washing a dead chicken in a chlorine solution translates to bugger the animals. Who knew.

John B
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John B

It’s OK – they kill then first by decapitation.

Chester Draws
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Chester Draws

The US “hormone” beef isn’t the cheapest. They are undercut completely by Argentina, Australia etc. Places with cheap land. And no added hormones. The US have trade barriers to stop Argentinian and Australian beef. Which they would not need if they had a cheaper superior product. Its a scam to elide the “cheap” with the factory farmed. In reality cheap comes natural. And better tasting. I’m betting that if the UK allowed free trade that some second or third world place will provide cheaper chicken. With no chlorine involved. Just as they produce — when allowed — the cheapest coffee,… Read more »

John B
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John B

Salmonella is present in avian guts and fæces on feathers. It contaminates the carcass during processing. The US process uses a chlorinated spray to kill bugs, then a water spray to remove dead bugs and wash-residue. In the UK/EU the carcasses are briefly dipped in very hot water… 70C. If not continually maintained, the water at the surface in these vats can cool below 70C where debris and grease collect making an ideal growth medium for bugs deposited there as the chicken goes in, and which the chicken picks up on the way out. Water does not kill bugs, chlorine… Read more »

Daedalus
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Daedalus

Water quite rightly does not kill bugs. But higher temperatures do, hence the pasteurisation of all sorts of food products. As you say chicken is put through a hot water bath at 70C and the temp should not be allowed to drop below that, as most bacteria that causes us problems die at around 67C. Milk is pasteurised at 71.5C for 15 seconds, from my brewing days I think that keg beer was done at 75 for 20 seconds. Milk has a shelf life of a week, beer 3 months.

HJ777
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HJ777

Tim is wrong.

Higher food prices here do not necessarily mean that UK farmers are less efficient than those in the rest of the world. They may be extremely efficient but are charging higher prices simply because they can (because of protectionist EU policies, e.g. import tariffs).

The only way to really find out whether they are more of less efficient is to drop the import tariffs and to see whether they can compete in a free market.

John B
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John B

But aren’t they competing with each other and other farmers in the EU? Beef/chicken prices must therefore be as low as they can go in relation to production cost, assuming cost due to regulation is standard across UK/EU. It must therefore be that production cost which is limiting lower prices, unless all farmers in the EU are in a cartel. If UK, EU farmers were as or more efficient as outside EU, why the tariffs and non-tariffs?

HJ777
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HJ777

It is well known that there are many inefficient producers within the EU which only exist because of subsidies and the higher prices that EU import tariffs and quotas allow them to charge. EU tariffs are there to help them survive (at the expense of the rest of the population). So no, you cannot assume that prices are already as low as they could be because of intra-EU competition.

John B
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John B

‘ We are extraordinarily lucky in this country to be served by some of the most effective and efficient farmers in the world…’ Effective AND efficient… tautology. Efficient means most effective possible at lowest cost. And my chlorinated chicken will go with my chlorinated salad. And all muscular tissue developes because of hormones. These are produced in the body, do their work, break down and are excreted, just like supplementary hormones injected, the purpose of which is to speed growth, so cattle can go to slaughter sooner saving maintenance costs to the farmer = greater efficiency, and thus lower prices… Read more »

Mr Womby
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Mr Womby

Might Sir Nick’s view be influenced by the subsidies he would lose if farmers were no longer “supported” by the taxpayers?

Charles
Guest
Charles

From https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/index.html – CDC estimates Salmonella bacteria cause about 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the United States every year. Since England & Wales have a population of roughly a fifth of the USA, we would expect 270,000 infections per year. Public Health England figures from 2016 are 8630 cases of non-typhoidal and 313 cases of typhoid and paratyphoid. That’s about a thirtieth of the US rate. Unless you are to totally abandon all food standards, we can *not* allow people to buy anything they please (for example unpasteurised milk is heavily regulated), so the debate is… Read more »

Spike
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Spike

But food is subject to detailed regulation everywhere in the US. Milk is a veritable cartel, the lobby now trying to get “almond milk” sold as something else. So alleged American anarchy doesn’t account for the difference in salmonella rates. Perhaps the fact that parts of America are much hotter, for much longer, than the UK?

But you use numbers (and quote the CDC, which never misleads!) so you’re practicing “science”? Your last sentence shows what you’re really doing.

Charles
Guest
Charles

The USA is the country that has food libel laws which prevent criticism of food quality. That tells you how much they care about the quality and how much they care about blindly supporting producers.

I use numbers and cite source because I do not expect people to just accept unfounded assertions. Your last paragraph uses unfounded insinuation, which shows what you are really doing.

Leo Savantt
Guest
Leo Savantt

“Brexit thinking – while claiming it’s all about taking back control, the reality is that it’s actually about surrendering all control to the USA.”

What an odd comment, can you name one area (apart from nuclear weapons) where the UK has handed control or is intending to hand control or anything to the USA? Of course the UK has handed over control of agriculture, food and fisheries to the EU, which no one can claim has been anything but a complete environmental disaster.

Charles
Guest
Charles

Just in case you have been living in the Big Brother house for the last few years and are not aware of developments, I’ll explain. The UK voted to leave the EU and, while it has technically done so, is still in a transition period intended to allow for negotiation of its relationship with the EU, so very little has yet changed. Despite advocates of Brexit having claimed that trade deals would be very easy, such deals have not appeared and look likely to take considerable time and require major concessions from the UK due to our extremely weak negotiatiing… Read more »