At the End of the Day

Three statistics that deserve examination

No 1: The average age of the UK farmer is 60. Very few of their children are interested in taking over the business. Only 4% of students study agriculture.

This has been a hobby-horse of mine for ages. Governments of both equally myopic Parties have seemed perfectly happy to watch UK agriculture die of starvation now for over forty years.

The future will not be one of globalist free trade: it will be one of judiciously chosen niche exports (predominantly from West to East) and every country having a high degree of sustainable self-sufficiency. Getting people back onto the land, properly trained and able to take their own decisions/take responsibility would be socially and economically healthy in almost every way. We could knock 30% off unemployment within eight years, and reduce our cost of imports by 20% within four years.

It is one of the few areas where (local) State help really would pay dividends…if the whole thing was scoped out and managed by the NUF, with some help from food scientists.

No 2: the Jubilee bank holiday wiped 0.4% off the UK’s growth pattern in the 2nd quarter of 2012. Yet another Sloggy Horse. No, I’m not here to knock the Jubilee celebrations (although I do think they’ve gone on too long and outstayed their welcome); I’m here to suggest the abolition of all bank holidays.

The problem with bank holidays is that everyone takes them all at once. A blinding glimpse of the obvious I realise, but the big difference between such days off and annual/employment holidays is that with the latter, life goes on and the production lines keep on rolling…because a good 70-95% of the staff are still at work and keeping things running.

On average, there are eight bank holidays a year. Although not double-headers like the Diamond Jubilee, one can roughly expect that bank holidays will knock back the rate of growth by an amazing 0.75% per annum. If the holidays were simply abolished and added to employee entitlement, it would make no difference to business overheads, but it would almost certainly have under 0.1% of negative effect on GDP.

Most people would feel they’d had their quality of life greatly enhanced by having 7-8 extra days, the roads would be less crowded, and the holiday entitlements would be more flexible.

It’s a no-brainer. And so of course, not even under consideration in either Westminster or Whitehall.

No 3: Trade Union membership has fallen by 55% since 1979. The figure falls every year without fail: last year a further 143,000 dropped out of Union membership.

At the high point of the TUC’s power in 1979, around 14m British workers belonged to a trade union. Today, only 6.4m UK employees are unionised (just under a quarter) and the most striking feature by far is the difference in union penetration between the public sector (where nearly 3 in 5 are unionised – especially in the Civil Service) and the private economy (where the figure is 1 in 7).

Mutualising the public sector and civil service occupations (from the Foreign Office to the NHS) would effectively wipe out the TUC as an effective pressure group in British politics – and remove the State from any control over administrative-cum-social activities in our culture. But equally to the point, it would also leave the Labour Party with no means of regularly donated support at all. No wonder Ed Miliband said a few weeks ago on Marr that he thought large donations should be banned entirely from Westminster politics: the Tories would have everything to lose, but The Labour Party relatively little.

Three simple figures suggesting ways to reduce our trade deficit and unemployment, painlessly increase economic output and life quality, and reduce the cost of the State massively while opening up our sclerotic political processes to completely new ideas.

This is what Radical Realism can achieve given half a chance. It really is not rocket science: rather, it is that our ‘elites’ are dull, grey, and primarily concerned to protect their privileges.

 

54 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. There doubtless is a lot of logic in supporting UK farmers, though let’s not remember the cost will be even higher. But there are some things that need reorganising. Take milk. Today on the Beeb the dairy farmers were wailing that their contract price had been reduced by their customers. Now I know that the supermarkets and wholesalers are not saints, but this is a clear example of excess supply in a market being supported by hefty (and if we accede to farmers’ demands, even heftier) subsidies. This is the danger of an industry that believes it has a right to create permanent surpluses then simply shift the cost onto the taxpayer. Better to let the weakest dairy farmers go out of business so that supply gets back in line with demand. Prepare for more wailing.

      • Well.. If by “weakest” you mean the least cost-effective then my impression is that ‘efficiency’ depends on vast automation, with the cows barely unlinked from their milking machines before being hoiked back on; pumped full of antibiotics and so forth to reduce mastitis and fed highly purified diets with not a blade of the green stuff in sight.

        Personally I avoid such milk and its products with a bargepole. Decent milk costs I’m afraid.

    • @Carys. Please do more homework. UK dairy farmers are the second most efficient in Europe and have the highest welfare standards. The current problem has been caused by retailers taking too much of the margin share and processors narrow minded persuit of market share within the liquid market. Ther are other problems regarding cash flow funding to the European processors which have curtailed exports of dairy product. For your information, the UK trade deficit in dairy product is £1.2 bn. PS Posted by Milkman, I think I know what I am talking about.

      • Agree. isn’t milk a loss leader for the big supermarkets, at the back of the shop to get you passing all the other products, and being greedy barks they squeeze the milk farmers to make up some of their loss?

    • @wfd. Thanks for your agreement. Milk used to be a loss leader, however, in the last decade or more this has changed into a massive profit maker. Estimated retailer gross margin of 18p per litre on over half of uk production,12-13bn litres. Retailer gross margins have grown considerably on cheese, cream etc in that time. Current situation foe most dairy farmers is dire with an expected loss of 8ppl over the coming autumn/winter. I could go on but will refrain. Suffice to say should the situation persist then next year British milk will be in very short supply and thousands of productive jobs and skills will be lost.

    • How can a company such as Tate & Lyle receive such huge sums from the farm subsidy payments? Yes, I know the better the knowledge of how the system works, the better one can take from it, but surely a subsidy should be for those living on the bread line, not those issuing options to shareholders – oops, I mean stakeholders – that run into the millions for individual profits?

      €827,979,239 since 1999 has been ‘donated’ to Tate & Lyle. WTF is going on!

      What a right royal proverbial up our whole system is.

      Reset button please!

  2. Jim Kunstler has been going on about this kind of thing for years in a U.S. context – good to see a Brit belatedly copping on.

    Although there are about 200 American commentators who are around 15 years ahead of the UK commentariat, it’s good to see one UK commentator finally manage to get about five years ahead.

    Well done John. You are the least stupid British person alive.

  3. I’ve been worried about our farming industry and hence our self sufficiency for some years; the qualifier to your point is that the industry needs to be cut free of restrictive EU legislation (here we to again).
    On your point about bank holidays, it’s so simple yet I’ve never heard it mooted before. Bank holidays are anachronistic and your idea of swapping them for extra days leave makes sense to me.
    Not so sure about trades union though. I’ve never belonged to one myself but there have been a few times in my career when I’ve thought membership would come in handy when managers have tried to ride roughshod over legislation. Could the idea of mutualisation be explained a bit further, please?

    • In the 70’s the terms of my employment included ‘a week of odd days’ in lieu of (or including) bank holidays. It worked very well. Then something happened (probably EU legislation) and, along with the 30-whatever number of hours’ week (as you see I took little notice of it because it was totally unrealistic), and the minimum number of weeks off prescribed by EU legislation, the work scenario changed to what we now know and love.

      Nuff said.

  4. it’s not a very good time to be selling houses so we thought we’d save the old folks the trouble.

  5. Clinical staff in the N H S don’t take public holidays on the day, they get it added to their annual leave entitlement. So, yes, it works to do that!

  6. Disagree on the farming being able to reduce unemployment. An uncle of mine is a farmer and decades ago he employed 3 workers just to get everything done. With the efficiencies introduced over the years down to just 1 worker now.

    Remember the harvest, loads of people and pitchforks, people, horse and cart that was my grandad. My uncle used to take on casual workers during the harvest to stack bales etc also. Even as a kid i got a quid for stacking 100 bales. Now you have the giant bales, need no extra help and kind of easy to move the larger volume.

    So the number of work hours is not there anymore although if everybody had a piece of land and grew their own food you could reduce food from the benefit equation but it would mean giving them some land to do so.

    No easy solution and evolved from when a “human” monkey climbed out of a tree a long time ago and developed the ability to use tools to increase production to a needs level. The only downside to that was the evolution of those in privileged positions to get a cut for nothing “not entirely the benefit scroungers neither” that is now extended to those who with not enough work to go round also.

    Just ain’t enough work to go round but then trapped you cannot reverse the clock on technological improvements so eventually something has to give.

    An opinion formed over decades.

    • Completely right. I’m a farmer and employ no-one directly now, running over 1000 acres myself, with just contract labour at crucial times. 30 years ago my father employed 1 full time and several seasonal workers on 300 acres. Technology has removed labour in swathes from farming, as it has in manufacturing. What jobs remain are highly technical – try getting to a modern tractor and driving it off, its like a jet plane cockpit nowadays, all screens, joysticks, computers and satellite controlled operations. The general trend is larger units, using increasingly large complex machinery, not smaller labour intensive ones.

      While the headline fact ‘Average age of farmers is over 60′ may be true on paper, I doubt its true for who actually does the work. Many of the older farmers who are nominally still farming will in fact be doing so on paper only. They will have contractors farming their land, and doing all the operations for them. They just sit at home and sort out the paperwork, if they don’t get a land agent to do that. Equally many farmers have sons and daughters working in the business who are not actually partners so do not show up in the statistics. Farmers are notorious for not wanting to retire and let go of the reins of power, and many farming children may work for decades into their 40s and beyond before they get the chance to take over properly from an aged parent. I took over my family farm when I was in my late 30s, and that was only because my father’s ill health made him housebound. Otherwise I’m sure it would never have happened.

      I don’t think JW has a great deal of experience of the farming industry based on this post.

      • Jim
        I don’t have any. I just know we need to import far less food. Same comments apply as to Mark: there is demand for farm produce made in different ways on different bases and new places.
        Take your blinkers off and think again.

    • Mark
      Fair point, but based on the principle that only existing farms and methods would come into use. I don’t agree: I’ve always thought the Government’s ‘land use’ data are driven by greedy builders….who donate £3.5m to the Conservative Party.

      • ‘We need to import far less food’

        We as a farmer I quite agree!

        But importing less food has some significant issues: 1) We are not self sufficient in food production, so if imports disappeared we would go hungry, and pay considerably more for doing so. 2) Imports are cheap, and provide the UK production with stiff competition, thus keeping prices down. 3) If you want to cut imports and raise home production without forcing everyone to pay lots more for food you need increased efficiency, not less. More mechanisation, bigger units etc, not more labour intensive methods. 4) No-one in the UK wants to do the labour intensive bits of UK farming we have already, the vegetable and fruit production jobs. They are all done by Eastern Europeans. The British worker doesn’t want to pick cabbages, sprouts or raspberries by hand. So trolling round your average town centre offering the local unemployed the chance to pick veg, feed pigs and shovel sh1t for minimum wage isn’t really going to get many takers.

        ‘there is demand for farm produce made in different ways on different bases and new places.’

        Do you have any evidence for this whatsoever, or is it just a case of ‘I’m middle class, and I fancy some organic produce now and again, so I assume everyone wants that too’?

        The vast majority of food buyers do so on price, with little regard for quality. The middle classes may deplore the masses desire for chicken nuggets and frozen chips, but a lot more of those are sold than organic chickens. Niche food markets are just that, niche. The masses don’t want expensive food, they want lots of it for as little money as possible.

  7. Imagination is needed, it is hard to come by at any price. There are so many things that could be done, instead the same old errors are repeated.

    A good place to start would be letting bad banks fail w/ bankers taking all losses including their jobs … how hard can it be?

    If the UK is be similar to the US, there are lots of younger people who would love to become farmers but are daunted by the enormous up-front costs, mostly for land. The land is an instrument of real-estate speculators who are holding out for tract housing, to hell with food!

    Real estate speculators don’t eat and neither do the rest of us: the very policies set to assist farmers set (crony) winners and force agriculture costs higher.

    In the US, the ‘new farmer’ movement is in its infancy and has no central support but the kids are figuring things out for themselves: there are some mentors and the Internet, of course. The successful farmers provide encouragement for others while unraveling of the credit bubble continues to remove the land speculators.

    http://benhewitt.net/about/excerpt-from-the-town-that-food-saved/

    If the TBTF banks can be gotten rid of …

    • Steve
      Amen to that. Clearing retail banks guaranteed by the State, Glass-Steagled from the Investment headcases…who must now risk their own money.
      Make it like Lloyds…minus only the welching when things go wrong.

  8. UK farmers are the most efficient in the EU, but are suffering the most because of the way the policy is applied. The UK also has the greatest number of regulations on farming-which are not applied in the EU
    In any event, the British people do not want good food, just cheap food.
    So sorry, UK agriculture is dead. The land should be used for housing, which we certainly cannot import.

      • Yes, I’m afraid you are right-it is all “what is”!
        Unfortunately we will continue to import food of declining quality, whilst expecting our farmers to produce better food at the same prices.
        As for “what could be”-pretty much the same as you suggest, as usual!
        We do need the houses though-and the capital released would help the farmers, but planning regulation prevents good small scale development and allows brutalism.

  9. Oh arrr. You know it makes sense. I saw this report on the telly the other night about farmers being screwed beyond the pale on their price of milk, causing many giving up altogether.

    The report suggested we will be importing all our milk from europe in the future. Doesn’t that make great sense in this global meltdown, NOT. ?

    • FriedT
      I posted some four months ago as to why supermarkets like Tesco are bad for communities AND the balance of trade. They screw farmers, and then import. Worst possible combination.
      I read comment threads like today’s and wonder if anyone in Britain has any balls at all.

  10. EU is to blame for the commercial distortions inficting British agriculture…….investment in agriculture is normally very long term and it wont happen unless there is more certainty……we will NEVER get that certainty from the beaurocratic shambles accross the channel…….

    Bank holidays are a blast from victoriana and were to ensure that everyone at least got minimum holidays …… good…….but another example of incomplete legislation ever since….they should really have disappeared when employment introduced minimum holiday entitlements …… an historical point of interest maybe but not really a feature of a modern economy

  11. If the UK milk market stood alone, the supply/demand/price balance would be achieved with farmers and retailers making deals which work for all parties, as neither could survive without the other.

    Trouble is, the UK farmers now have to price against ‘supported’ product which can be cheaply shipped across a 20 mile waterway, thus compromising that internal supply/demand/price formula. This will remain the case until all the nonsense of the corrupting EUSSR is eliminated.

    Farmers are not alone, these practices affect almost all aspects of out trade and business. Free trade is good – EUSSR trade is not free – the state of UK farmers and the milk market is just one headline example of the effects.

  12. I wish it was as simple as JW seems to think. I detect that he has never run a farm or an estate because as others have pointed out UK farms are effecient and I doubt you would create many jobs – they just aren’t there anymore. Nor are there millions of acres laying fallow.

    As to the Jubilee this was a very rare and special event and we will never see this again.

    On Trade Unions I hope they do collapse. I’ve dealt with Trade Unionist and I have to say that many of the modern versions were more interested in stupid Left-wing politics than the interests of their members. I once had to ask one if he was actually interested in his members having Jobs or him scoring political points. He was a moron. I also do not agree with the amount of taxpayers money unions recieve via civil servants paid by us doing ‘union duties’. The union should pay for that not us.

    • Andy
      If it was simple, everyone would be doing it.
      JESUS CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE BE POSITIVE ABOUT SOMETHING TODAY FOR CHRIST’S SAKE?
      Is there no creativity left anywhere?
      And I’m sorry mate, but the fallow/unusable figures are bollocks. I looked at them two years ago and even the Land Registry admits they don’t make sense/add up.
      Forget the f**king EU and f**king tractors and f**king prices and f**king subsidies and f**king e fficiencies and f**king markets: THIS IS FOOD FOR US FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.
      THINK about the equation:
      400,000 fewer on welfare + revived communities + sense of pride and self-respect + ABOVE ALL cutting £20bn off the import bill and £650m off the crime costs.
      This isn’t going to be easy, guys. That’s not the idea.
      Give me strength.

      • John,
        There are things that can be done, and by individuals too. As you should know, I am a keen gardener. As a family we grew most of our own food – which in Britain with its dire economy for tradesmen was a must.

        With the average suburban garden, it should be possible to grow your own top-fruit and probably strawberries and raspberries too. You yourself have enough quince trees to prove this. Why not plant a few plums and cherries?

        An allotment it is possible to grow a great deal at little cost. Whilst it is hard work, it is rewarding. There is nothing to match something you have grown yourself from the seed. You also get better quality food. Carrots taste of carrot, they don’t just look orange and taste of water. The drawbacks are the crop-failures. I speak as someone who has killed more plants than most people have grown. That is over-egging things perhaps, but if you grow potatoes, blight can wipe out your crop in a matter of days. Cabbages can get all sorts of diseases too. Add to this toxic mix my garden that is pretty well as sterile as pure silicon, and you begin to get the picture. It isn’t always easy starting up.

        One answer is compost. This makes clay soils lighter, and gives sandy soils more structure. After two years of serious composting, I am beginning to see results, but it is only a beginning. My cabbages whilst better than last year’s measly worm-ridden specimens, are nowhere near the quality I have seen around me. It is also amazingly water retentive. It can take anything up to 100x its own weight in water, and more importantly will guard it against run-off or evaporation. It is there for the plants to use.

      • Positive suggestion: http://www.polyfacefarms.com/ and other permaculture and aquaponics sites. “Efficient agriculture” is almost an oxymoron: inputs of fertilizer and energy from far away in order to send produce far away, from concentrated animal feeding operations with their attendant risks of disease and environmental damage. There is a better way.

  13. Wherever government sticks its meddling nose a rank stink is assured. Rules upon subsidies, one cure attempted is another problem made. This a patchwork of fudges so vast and ghastly yet the mad onwards charge is the clarion call of all and sundry. More and more. Fix this with that, they should stop this, they should encourage that. It is endless and it is impossible.

    Why not just stop, look and see; the problem is not the market, it is the endless interference. If the state played absolutely no part in the production of food, the management of land, the welfare of agriculture, it would quickly adapt and mend till the most productive optimum emerged.

    Best of all if we did not have a state at all. Its rubbish, its a false paradigm; but people are so indoctrinated into the belief that a state is necessary, a fundamental of the human condition, utterly essential, that they cannot start to conceive what such political and societal ‘atheism’ could look like or how it would function at all.

    Two of the oldest ideas of mankind that we should grow out of and dump: belief in god and belief in the state. They both are no more than the devices of the few to enslave the many.

    Suckers!

    • EUB
      Thank you for that considered input, Kropotkin Tovarich. I’m not an anarchist, and I don’t want to live in a commune recycling its farts.
      I want to restore communities and ensure our food supply.
      But given the response to this today, I’m no longer sure I can be bothered.

      • Well by the time you and your statist mates have gobbled up all the Agenda 21 sustainable development, climate-change, carbon-tax fodder coming your way you will probably only be able to afford look forward to an evening of sniffing each-others farts!

        My concept of a state-less society does not include any stripped-pine hippy dream trash. That is your false paradigm you have stuck in your head. True ‘anarchism’ is all about the creation and preservation of wealth. (Nor is it mad-men on motorbike waving machetes either for you MSM junkies out there).

        And my concept is absolutely nothing like communism (and is a million miles from socialism). I am happy for people to live and identify themselves as whatever class they wish to be – why would that bother me unless I am simply jealous of their smoking jackets or taste in Rembrandt. What I do not want is an ‘upper class’ that controls the state and use the state to rule me and thieve all I produce. But they can keep scoffing at the great unwashed all they like.

        I do not want the end of money. I just want the end of the state having the monopoly over the means of production of money and then allowing the state to be coerced into grant that right to a cartel of ultra-wealthy international finances.

        I absolutely do not believe in common ownership. My body in my property and all that I produce belongs to me to do with as I wish. And that goes for everybody else. Fear that one big fat cat will end-up owning everything can be scoffed at. Big fat-cat use the state to end-up owning everything. Government is their bitch.

        In a stateless society you may well end-up knitting hemp socks in an old school bus – your free to make that choice – but that life is not for me. No thanks.

      • How does the idea of a state give you any-more right to property. Quite the converse. The state owns everything and grants you a right to use it; that includes the product of your labour. A stateless society does not mean a society without legal process. The tax state is the modern form of slavery yet it is designed so Joe Average will not grasp that point at all. The end of slavery was brought about because the ruling oligarchy realised this point and how to conceal it too.

        You want to do a bit of study before you go opening your trap – your just completely conditioned to think: people are unable to operate in a civilised way without the state organising all and sundry. I don’t blame you; there is a lot of your mindset about since the No1 activity of the state is indoctrination.

        And by the way; if you want to call me a ‘pillock’ then you should be ready to do so to my face. Get in touch and we will make an arrangement for you to try that on for size. Otherwise learn some manners if you want your opinions to be take as meritorious at all.

      • eubrainwashing: I didn’t say right to property, I said an enforceable right to property. In a small country with 60 million people at one of the highest densities in the world given a future food shortage, say of a kind faced in the second world war how do you think most of the population would fare without a state to hold the ring? Those who’ve grown their own food would find lots of people wanting to “share” it and their land, ordinary folks with starving families and no access to land to grow their own. In your version of paradise how do you sort that out? Give everyone their own guns and ammo and diy? JW has a good point, there is plenty of scope to put more people on the land growing food that others will want to buy but how can they get access to land unless the state intercedes with landed interests to do that?

        There is plenty of discussion to be had about what the state should be raising cash for and spending it on, but the absence of a state does not hold much attraction for most people. “Imagine” is a great track but its not going to happen.

        The state does not own everything, thats nonsense. I suggest you do more study too, I’m concerned that you may have been brainwashed. Or perhaps you’d like to see the population reduced by 90% to make your ideas more workable, starting with me perhaps?

  14. Farmers. and their difficulties gives me an opportunity to bang my drum again. If every English person, as defined, over the age of 20 received a ‘national income’ of 15K a month that would resolve many difficulties; particularly for hill farmers and fishermen.

    Bank holidays ! And the perennial bad example of Japan. They have more public days off than most (especially Golden Week, late April/early May, when it’s a TEN DAY block holiday). That’s why their economic progress has been so bad since 1945.

  15. Hi John, you are on fine form today :)

    1. There is an inheritance tax incentive not to hand over the farm to your kids till you die which is one of the reasons for the increasing average age of the ‘working’ farmer.
    Most agricultural work is low paid, hard graft with crap and dangerous working conditions, farm workers cannot afford to live in the rural areas where farm work is located.
    Unless you owned the land you farmed then you were better off moving into the cities to do equally crap/dangerous jobs but with the advantage that wages were slightly higher/more regular and total living costs were reduced.
    I agree we should grow/produce more of our own food but you would have to prise the land from the cold dead fingers of the big landowners, the vast majority of whom stole the land in the first place and now suck up £3.5bn in subsidies each year.

    2. There was an extra working day in Q1 2012 (Feb 29th) how much did that add to GDP ?
    Retail today enjoys the bank holidays, most workers will just have the bank holidays added to their annual leave and will be expected to work on those days. In the old days whole towns across northern England would close for a week in the summer (it was staggered so that the popular resorts weren’t overwhelmed)
    The only thing I would change about bank holidays is the civil service practice of having both the bank holiday off and also the following day as paid holidays (this is now dying out in local gov.)

    3. I have no problem with collective worker representation (it makes sense for the boss to only have to refuse one claim for a wage increase rather than to have to refuse each worker one at a time) but I don’t see any need for the political levy.
    Politicians should be self funded with a restriction of election spending of £500 (in a national election, less for county/local etc.) and there should be no fee for putting your name forwards but you should have to get a percentage of the electorate to agree that your name can go forwards. I would also ban any electioneering in the media for the 4 week period prior to the election.

    4. (yes I know you didn’t have a 4, I assume that you forgot to put it in :)

    There should be a National Bank, it should offer 2 accounts.

    A Current Account offering no interest, it should have realtime credits and debits, DD’s SO’s but no overdrafts and no charges, if insufficient funds are available then the transaction is refused.
    It should not offer any lending at all.
    It would be the modern version of cash in your wallet, when you buy something, the money is immediately transferred to the seller to spend as he wishes and vice versa.

    A Savings Account that offers index linked interest only (like NS&I) it will preserve the spending power of your money but it will not give a return on your money (it is a saving not an investment).

    The National Bank should be the only one with the guarantee (not limited to £85000 either).

    If you want a better return on your money then you have to accept some risk and you would go to a private investment bank, if you want to borrow then you can go to a private lending bank.
    These private banks would only be guaranteed by the assets they hold, caveat emptor.
    Dismantle the financial regulations and get rid of banking licences as these only serve to (falsely) hide the risks.

  16. “The average age of the UK farmer is 60″

    The numbers are even worse for Japan, but this is not a problem; university graduates in Greece and Italy are taking up farming (the rustic non-industrial low-capital kind of farming). If push comes to shove people could be pressed to work the land through the well-fare or prison systems.

    The real problem is that all agriculture in Europe is based on high-energy consumption especially oil and gas that can’t be replaced by electricity. The current high productivity of the land can easily plummet if imports of oil, gas, potash and machinery are disrupted.

    • anonemiss

      The current high productivity of the land can easily plummet if imports of oil, gas, potash and machinery are disrupted.

      Add to this the fact that modern agriculture relies on chemical fertilizers. On the one hand they are easily washed away, and on the other do nothing to improve the quality of the soil that plants actually need to be healthy. It is a negative, downward spiral where to keep growing means ever more inputs – fertilizer, specialized seeds, fungicides and pesticides to mention but a few. There will come a time when the limits of our ability to outwit nature come to an end.

      The alternative is to work with nature, who is generous to those who respect her.

  17. I assume most people are in agreement that if UK is to prosper in future, we have to be hi-tech world leaders in just about everything, since we refuse to work for low wages on manual tasks.
    Ergo, we need to farm clever, design and manufacture clever, invent energy clever, and educate clever. Since farming appeared to be the topic at hand, we need to find ways of improving crop yields and growing on poor quality soils. We also need to kill all the subsidies, government interference, and break up the agri-business monsters (pharma and corporate farmers).
    There is a lot of ad-hoc thinking going on just now about how you can mix crops in the same field get natural protection from pests, and also get symbiotic encouragement. there is enough simple chemistry knowledge to improve soils, crop and beast rotation in fields, and no. of ideas. There are surely enough lateral thinkers in this country.
    There are loads of brilliant ideas how to harvest without loads of imported labour; UK soft fruit industry has transformed yields with plastic; you could transform the peat bogs in the Highlands with some nanobots and drainage; urban landscapes support allotments, bees, tomatoes, grapes, etc. Maybe a little imaginative banker support funding wouldn’t go amiss …….
    That upbeat enough for you?

    We just don’t need GM idiocy, Mother Nature knows best, all the lessons are there to be learned.

  18. import tarifs and farm-subsidies protect our food-producers from foreign competition – meanwhile third-world aid programmes put foreign farmers out of business, much in the same way as our own welfare-state obviates the necessity for british citizens to work, then shepherds them into benefit dole-queues for permanent stagnation. the interference of state protectionism cripples the free-market’s ability to deliver goods to the consumer at the optimum price – and now does so at time of severe economic depression when family budgets can ill-afford the prospect of artificially high prices.

    during the first half of the 20th century, tax-laws were passed in kenya to prevent indigenous farmers from producing crops more efficiently than european estate-owners, whose market-rates were being seriously undercut by their african competitors – it was this colonial policy, combined with the european expropriation of all prime agricultural land and the brutal introduction of forced african labour on european farms, which ultimately precipitated the 1950s rebellion against british imperial rule.

    there is currently starvation in kenya, yet in the african rift-valley some of the most fertile agricultural land in the world remains under the control of europeans, who exploit it to cultivate cheap blooms for tesco’s and sainsbury’s. something’s gotta give.

    • There is also starvation in the former Rhodesia, but for different reasons.

      There were thirty jobs on the farm that my ex might have inherited were it not expropriated. Now the little town of Banket – dependent on local farmers – is all but gone.

      It is not only Europeans who can get up to such antics.

      As to Tescos, Albert Heijn, Aldi and all the rest – take a note of where your food was produced. Personally, I don’t like a pea that has travelled for more than ten minutes, let alone overnight from Nairobi or Lusaka (chilled or not). BTW it was the IMF that put the money up for such things. Growing peas in Africa? What nonsense – yet to some daft economist it makes sense. Sorghum is a far better crop.

      Be warned that other dangers lurk. Zambian chicken farmers have been bankrupted by incoming Chinese who are more diligent at farming. Oh, and they own the copper mines too – and have eyes on the Katanga too.

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