There are indeed certain questions that require answers in this world. How much, for example, should some Welsh sheep farmer, shivering in the rain in Snowdonia, be allowed to increase the food prices for 65 million people in order that he gains a living?
One obvious answer is nowt (or even Llareggub) and that’s the end to that. Another is that no one at all should ever be allowed to import any food whatsoever in order that the owner of any scrap of land, however marginal, should continue to have a decent income.
This question of how the rest of us must be restricted, impoverished, in order to feed farmers does have to be answered. On the grounds that the question has been raised, there is a structure in place to do something about it and we’re considering how to change that structure. My own answer is go the full New Zealand. Sod ’em. Me’dos. The purpose of all production is consumption and that’s that. If domestic production doesn’t cut it without subsidy then so what?
OK, but answering such questions does require that the question be properly posed. That we don’t start out with a framing that deliberately tips the answer in one direction or another:
The core of the argument is whether Britain should be doing trade deals with the likes of Australia, Canada and the United States if it means we have to allow in food from countries with lower standards than ours. Liz Truss, the trade secretary, believes we should; George Eustice, the secretary of state for farming and the environment, backed by the National Farmers’ Union and a bunch of green groups, believes we should not. The prime minister is said to take Truss’s side.
No, that’s not right. That’s the way it is being framed and that framing automatically biases potential answers to the farmers and restriction side. Which is why, of course, it is being framed in that manner.
The core of the argument is how much can the farmers righteously demand from the rest of us? This comes in two parts. There’s that idea – a good and true one – that we do indeed owe all of our fellows a living. We’re not going to insist that a fellow citizen has entirely zero income. They will, at the very least, gain the same dole and gruel available to the rest of us. The second is that that countryside out there has been managed for a couple of millennia, it looks like it does because it has been and is farmed, how much are we willing to pay to keep it that way?
Good and honest questions. My answers are the dole for you sgulreggub and the countryside will be the result of whatever replaces farming. Cool, looc. I might be in a minority of one on that point, or those points.
The production via lower standards is an excuse to obscure this question. These questions. It is not the question itself, it’s a biased approach to swing the answer.
Here is the actual question. “How much of our money should farmers have?”
Everything else is propaganda.