Monday, March 30, 2009

Jamie Oliveoil recipe for Agricultural Fudge

After a number of comments from farming friends I would just like to clarify my thoughts on this:

This You Tube video was produced by the Taxpayers’ Alliance in support of a report they produced on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The report suggests the policy has led to higher food prices, taxes and costly EU red tape but warns it is doing little to help British farmers and that the main recipients of CAP money are large corporations and Government bodies.

The issues it raises are important ones but what is not dealt with here (and this is important) is the disparity between farmgate and retail prices in the UK, with falling farmgate prices rarely passed on by processors and retailers to shoppers. In fact we find ourselves in the ludicrous position where farmers as ‘the supplier’ have to stand the cost of some special offers seen by supermarkets as loss leaders for other product lines.

It should also be noted that the video fails to mention the recent reforms of the CAP. These broke the link between support payments and food production and as a result the Single Farm Payment (SFP) is now made to farmers in return for sound environmental and land management practices. The sad thing is that the return for farmers from the marketplace is such that to a greater or lesser extent they are still reliant on their SFP to subsidise food production.


Anonymous said...

You obviously have little knowledge of farming. If you did you would not put anything as insensitive as this on your blog.

Paul Robinson said...

On the contrary as someone who was brought up with farming, has many friends in the industry and is a very much a supporter of rural issues – I think I qualify.

Perhaps you may want to watch the clip again as you may have missed some of the significant issues raised, one of which being the hypocritical situation the EU finds itself when subsidies are paid to tobacco-growers, even as other EU funds are spent on discouraging tobacco use.

It is very easy to make glib comments under the cover of anonymity – perhaps you would care to ‘come out’ and explain exactly why you think the clip may be insensitive……..

Geoff Pikering said...

You can keep your subsidy I don’t want it. The CAP is to sustain subsistence farming in Europe. What I need is £80 a lamb from M&S to break even- instead of the £25 they get away with now.
This is not just farm subsidy it's M&S profit subsidy.
No such thing as cheep food. Unless we eat disease ridden 3rd world imports with no welfare consideration . All raised by clearing the natural ecology for grasslands which can not be sustained without pesticides.
Euro farmers bad- 3rd world good argument is easy until you compare like for like and add in all the other stuff that is considered important around our highly subsidised dining tables.

By the way the TPA do not mention that Gordon diverted much of the subsidy to pay for flooding and that the 300m fine for not paying 1.5b due to UK farmers on time comes from money due to UK farmers.

Rachael Gillbanks said...

This video raises some important issues, but unfortunately does so in a fairly crass and unsophisticated way. Public debate on the costs and benefits of the CAP is to be welcomed but informed debate is what we need.

When the TPA talk about the CAP raising food prices, they are referring largely to the impact of import tarrifs, not huge sums of money paid to British farmers as primary producers. In fact one of the main effects of the CAP since its inception after WW2 has been stable and affordable food prices in this country. That's because the support payments made to farmers have effectively allowed them to supply food at below the cost of production.

Recent reforms mean that CAP payments are no longer linked to food production and farmers have been told to get a better return from the marketplace instead. After 47 years of selling at a loss, this is proving a very painful experience and many farmers still rely on their support payment to keep their farms going despite the fact that payments are now made in return for environmental and land management not food production.

To make the assumption that no CAP equals lower food prices is one thing. But at what cost? Not only a massive increase in food from countries with lower welfare and environmental standards, but an even more precarious existence for our local farmers, with retailers not bound to pass on lower farmgate prices.

Paul Robinson said...

I agree wholeheartedly with both Geoff and Rachael and have addressed some of what you say in the text after the video. People want the lowest possible prices for their food, particularly from supermarkets, but don’t realise much of this is passed to the supplier (or farmer in this case) resulting in lower farmgate prices, so we have farmers facing the scenario of lower prices for their produce whilst at the same time increased costs for production. Yes the video is perhaps a little crass in the way it addresses the issue – but that is the way organisations like the TPA get across their message in 2 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Do you realise Rachael Gillbanks is part of NFU? Its good to see them becoming involved with this issue and puting the side of farmers forward, especially when the public are being misled by people in the community with insufficient agricultural knowledge!

Paul Robinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Robinson said...

Yes, I am very much aware of who Rachael is. Please feel free to join the debate as someone with 'sufficient agricultural' knowledge. I for one would welcome your thoughts and ideas for reform of the CAP,the future of farming and how the 'financial relationship' between farmers and supermarkets could be improved... but please don't remain anonymous.

Paul Robinson said...

I notice that effective from yesterday (1st April), supermarket giant Tesco has reduced the price it pays to the farmers in its ‘Tesco's Sustainable Dairy Group’ (TSDG) by 1.32pence per litre (ppl). Is this not a further example of farmers suffering to support price cuts in the supermarket?

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the real world, are you only just realising how we farmers are treated? This goes on all the time. We farmers are pawns on a very big chess board.