Vegetarian Discussion: Homage To Haskins Farmers Told To End Handout Culture

Homage To Haskins Farmers Told To End Handout Culture
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Oo
2007-01-20 05:40:06 EST
Homage to Haskins



In this day and age, where we now know why farmers have big hands, is
because they are always holding them out for one benefit, or another,
or waving placards saying "Look at me, how hard done by I am". If we
wont tolerate lazy people on the dole, why should we tolerate lazy
farmers holding their hands out all day long?

At last, a British politician is telling the farmers the truth.

Lord Haskins refuses to be bullied and bamboozled by Ben Gill or
Prince Charles. Correctly, he has said that farmers must be more
entrepreneurial and embrace change.

For too long farm unions have got away with blaming everyone but
themselves for the farming crises. They have ludicrously exaggerated
their own problems. Unchallenged by incompetent and lazy journalists,
they repeat the untruths about farm incomes, rural prosperity and farm
suicides.

The hapless impressionable Prince Charles has re-parroted all the
nonsense preached by the farming lobby. Lord Haskins said that Charles
should think for 10 seconds about the claim on farm incomes being £100
a week.

This figure disregards the fact that more than half of all farmers
already have a second job. A third of them are ‘hobby’ farmers
independent of farm earnings. Even the sum quoted is really
‘disposable income’ left over after other farm expenses have been
paid. All expenses can be described as agricultural spending. One
farmer got away with a claim that his childrens' public schools fees
were agricultural spending as ‘training.’

Previous ministers have been cowed by farmers denouncing their
ignorance of farming. lord haskins is a farmer and has cut an
impressive swathe of truth through the myths.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2394925.stm


The biggest threat facing Europe's farmers is if they refuse to
abandon their "culture of dependence", a key former UK Government
adviser has warned.
Chris Haskins, who headed Britain's Rural Recovery Task Force in the
wake of last year's foot-and-mouth crisis, says Europe's farms will
not go into meltdown if they have to compete in an open global market
without production subsidies.



Too much attention is given to the views of rural commuters and owners
of second homes in the countryside

Lord Haskins
And he argues that the troubles of UK farmers have been made worse by
their failure to work together, forcing costs up and often making
marketing efforts inadequate.

In a new essay, Lord Haskins also says English farmers are too often
prevented from converting old buildings because planners take too much
notice of people who live in towns and cities.

The essay, entitled 'Is there a future for European farming?', is
published by the Foreign Policy Centre and follows Tony Blair's spat
with Jacques Chirac over reforming Europe's Common Agricultural Policy
(CAP).

'Huge demand'

Lord Haskins is upbeat about Europe's ability to compete if subsidies
are dropped and farmers are instead paid for looking after the
countryside.

European agriculture could also cope if protectionist barriers to
world food trade are torn down, he argues.


Subsidies reform caused the row between Blair and Chirac

"There will still be a huge demand for European farm products, and
European taxpayers seem to be prepared to support the perusal of good
environmental practices on farms," he says.

"The greatest threat for the future lies with the farmers themselves.

"If they reject change, including the need to abandon the culture of
dependence, then the long term erosion of their position will only
accelerate."

Lord Haskins says plans to ban Europe and America from dumping food
surpluses on the world market would mean food prices would rise.

Regional premiums

Europe's farmers also have a key advantage over their competitors
because 400 million wealthy consumers in the EU rely on them for safe,
short-shelf-life food, he says.

The higher costs imposed by regulations in Europe can also be turned
into a chance to build greater confidence in the quality and safety of
their food.

Lord Haskins also argues there are premiums to be won through selling
regional foods, such as English stilton.


Lord Haskins warns about the lure of organics

But he warns that the vast majority of shoppers are not prepared to
pay more to get organic food unless it can be proven they get better
texture, flavour and safety.

"Farmers should assess the business case for organic and avoid being
beguiled by encouraging noises from retailers and organic farming
evangelists," says Lord Haskins.

Last year's foot-and-mouth epidemic was viewed as a hammer blow to the
UK countryside but Lord Haskins says predictions that many farmers
would leave the industry have proved ill-founded.

"The vast majority of them have chosen to restock, forcing the price
of breeding stock up," he says.

That suggests those farmers are confident about the future, he argues,
although acknowledging many of them may not be able to contemplate a
future out of farming.

There is a contradiction too that tractor sales remain buoyant while
many farmers complain they are bankrupt, says Lord Haskins.

Change efforts thwarted


Many farmers are looking to diversify in what they do, especially by
converting old farm buildings.

But Lord Haskins says planning authorities in countries like England
and the Netherlands often resist such requests.

"Too much attention is given to the views of rural commuters and
owners of second homes in the countryside who care little and
understand little about the rural economy," he says.

Lord Haskins views are likely to be carefully examined in government,
where he is tipped to get a new role reviewing the spending of the
Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.



Oo
2007-01-20 05:43:38 EST
Lord Haskins, who is chairman of Northern Foods and a Labour peer, is
regarded as a key voice on food and farming policy.

But his forthright views on the future of agriculture, including the
belief that many farmers have been mollycoddled and that huge
subsidies have encouraged fraud, will alarm many farmers about the
government's intentions.

In tune with many ministers, Lord Haskins believes the crisis must
lead to shake-out in the industry. A fortnight ago he predicted that
"farms will get bigger and that's a good thing".

He went on: "A lot of agricultural reformers, like the Prince of
Wales, want farmers to stand around being subsidised and making
thatched roofs. Well, that's for the birds. Agriculture has got to
strive to be more competitive and more productive."

He was speaking at the launch of an unofficial inquiry backed by the
government into how to win political support in Europe for reform of
the common agricultural policy.

At the time of the inquiry's launch, he predicted that as many as half
of Britain's farms would disappear in the next 20 years, adding that
many of them use methods that are less environment-friendly than those
used by the big farms. He also called for large cuts in farm
subsidies, outside hill farming, claiming many farmers "have been
mollycoddled for too long".

He also said that he thought the subsidy system encouraged fraud with
sheep being moved around illegally to claim extra grants.

Lord Haskins believes the government has to get away from the
"medieval business" of moving animals large distances to markets, one
of the causes of the rapid spread of the foot and mouth outbreak.

He will initially help local authorities and other agencies plan for
the economic recovery of Cumbria, the worst hit area.

But he will also consider what lessons should be applicable to the
other areas that have been been hit by foot and mouth, and he will act
as a channel of communication between local task forces and central
government.

The peer is known to have strong views on the future shape of the
countryside, including the need to introduce an insurance system so
that farmers hit by crises need not rely on the state to be bailed
out.



Oo
2007-01-20 05:52:23 EST
How to wreck the Welsh Economy

http://www.paulflynnmp.co.uk/newsdetail.jsp?id=285


“Get out and talk to farmers’. the FUW tell me. I would as soon as I
find out where they hide when a debate is offered.

One Welsh television programme arranged one. I was to spend a day
visiting a famous Welsh farmer. On condition that he would be open, in
confidence, about his true income. In return, he would visit Newport
to meet a hospital porter, a residential home worker and a redundant
steelman to tell them why their taxes should subsidise him.

The farmer pulled out of the broadcast. Will any other prominent FUW /
NFU official take up the challenge ?

We could discuss why the industry that contributes 0.1% to the Welsh
economy should be shored up while the steel industry that contributes
70 times that amount is allowed to collapse. Equal treatment would
mean set-aside blast furnaces. Unsellable steel would be bought by the
government at top price and stored indefinitely.

Welsh farming needs a dose of reality of the Lord Haskins type. If
Wales continues with dependancy farming and England modernises into
self -sufficiency, the Welsh economy will spiral into decline. The
farming lobby has the the timid Welsh Assembly by the throat. Yet
Farming is not even the main industry in rural Wales. It’s number
four, behind catering, distribution, manufacturing and administration.

The best boost that Rural Wales could have would be to change large
tracts of farming land to other uses. Farms of a hundreds of acres
often employ two or three people. They could provide work for hundreds
in alternative jobs. Wales would be more beautiful. Farmed land could
return to its natural unpolluted state. Great for wildlife, the
tourist industry, animal welfare and the environment.

The NFU / FUW policy of culling to protect future profits has already
dragged down the tourist industry. The other 99.9% of the Welsh
economy cannot permanently carry farming on its back. The £million
payouts to farmers convinced generous members of the public that
they’d been cheated. Donors to church collections and car boot sale
for FMD relief were shocked by a farmer with £4 million of taxpayers
cash begging for compensation for lost income. That cheque yields
£200,000 income a year in interest alone!

I have urged the FUW to campaign for poor farmers not for all farmers.
The billionaire Duke of Westminster, the second richest man in the UK
gets a £3 million a year subsidy, a third of a million for setaside.
80% of the £5 billion annual farm handout goes to the 20% richest
farmers.

The answer to rural poverty is redistribution of wealth from rich
farmers to poor. The quoted average farm income ignores the fact that
51% of farmers now have a second income and a third are hobby farmers.

Land values and bankruptcies are accurate measures of rural
prosperity. Welsh land roughly doubled in value in 10 years and leapt
by 12% in the first quarter of this year. Bankruptcies are running as
a record low. About 6% in urban firms but a microscopic 0.1 % of farm
businesses - a third of the level that it was in 1994 when farm
incomes were the highest in Europe.

This is the unmentionable good news. Farmers are now income poor: most
are asset rich. Steelworkers are expected to be grateful for a ‘Son of
ISERBS’ award of £2,500 for a lifetime’s work. Yet, farm valuers get
more than that for two days FMD work.

Other overcompensation enjoyed by hauliers, vets, slaughtermen and
farmers are perverse incentives to spread the disease. It needs only
one unscrupulous person to infect more farms. it may have already
happened.

Since March,. I have urged vaccination. The NFU’s Ben Gill’s 50
questions obstructed the Government plan to vaccinate in April.

Farms unions seeking culprits for the present waste and misery should
look in the mirror.


>


Oo
2007-01-20 06:03:47 EST
Time to scrap EU subsidies
FORDYCE MAXWELL AND JIM BUCHAN
http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=465&id=83972006
A FORMER leading adviser on UK government rural policy said yesterday
that European farm subsidies should be scrapped.

Lord Haskins also told a conference in Glasgow that, after the purely
farming parts had been scrapped, what was left of the common
agricultural policy (CAP) should be re-nationalised. Abolishing the
CAP would be painful short-term, he admitted. But long-term it would
produce huge benefits for British farmers.

The former chairman of Northern Foods and a long-serving government
adviser before he was thrown out of the Labour party to sit as a Lords
cross-bencher, has substantial farming interests in Yorkshire and
Ireland with his two sons.

He told a slightly stunned audience at the Semex cattle breeding
company conference: "I believe that phasing out subsidies will make
farming more efficient and more profitable. On my arable farm this
year we will lose money on the three subsidised crops - wheat, barley
and oilseed rape.

"But we will more than make up for that on profits from the two
unsubsidised crops - potatoes and vining peas. Our pigs are also
profitable."

Arable farmers might agree with the bare details, but argue that their
problem for some years has been low prices for their crops, not
subsidies.

Haskins disagreed: "Subsidies sustain inefficiencies and encourage
farmers to grow crops on unsuitable land. Without subsidies, the
inefficient will have to pull up their socks or pass production to
another grower, almost certainly larger scale.

"Without subsidies, unsuitable land will go out of arable cropping.
Either way, with less supply reaching the market, prices should rise."

Haskins supports the World Trade Organisation contention that all
export subsidies and import tariffs should be wound down, and quickly.
That will lead to a new, much more competitive, era.

He went on: "With no special treatment for European Union farming,
there would be no further need for the CAP. What would be left , such
as rural development funds and now the single farm payment, should be
re-nationalised."

Increasingly, he said, the single annual farm payment, which from last
year replaced direct production subsidies for some products, would
become a social payment to help vulnerable farmers.

"This would be the responsibility of member states and not the
European Commission. It is logical to transfer responsibility for
structural reform back to national finance ministries."

The CAP, the backbone of European farming for half a century, takes a
disproportionate share of the EU budget, he insisted, and has worked
against the long-term interests of farmers.

"Every industry has experienced drastic reform, thanks to scientific
and technological innovation and competition. European farmers, who
have been protected from change in an unsuccessful attempt to maintain
a viable rural status quo, must, in their own long-term interests,
change."

He added: "I hope and believe that, in 20 years' time, my two farming
sons and their children will still be in business. But only if they
are bigger, more efficient, more market-led and more competitive than
they are now."

Web links

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
http://www.defra.gov.uk/
National Farmers' Union
http://www.nfu.org.uk/
NFU Scotland
http://www.nfus.org.uk/


Oo
2007-01-20 06:13:34 EST
Harvesting the subsidies -farmer slams whingers
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



http://www.paulflynnmp.co.uk/mustreaddetail.jsp?id=342



ONCE he grew crops but now he "farms the taxpayer". A Kent farmer has
become the first in Britain to get paid for growing nothing but grass
and wild plants.

Philip Merricks has turned over his 3,600-acre Kingshill Farm on the
Isle of Sheppey to rare birds and insects - swapping the income from
crops for government subsidies. About 600 acres have been rented to
the RSPB while a series of grants - one alone was worth £1.5m - has
enabled him to turn the rest over to wildlife as well.

His success has been praised by conservationists, who say he has shown
how farming skills can be used to protect the environment, but many
farmers are angered by the fact that Kingshill generates more in
subsidies than it could from food production. They have accused him of
exploiting taxpayers and turning into a "park-keeper".

Merricks, however, believes that many others will follow his example.
"I used to grow just crops but nobody wants that any more. Farmers
have a new role, which is not necessarily just about growing food. If
the taxpayer will support us, we can turn our skills to producing wild
birds, plants and animals."

Eventually he signed a management agreement with the government
agency, under which it paid him an initial £1.5m lump sum and £300,000
a year to create and manage the land for wildlife. Cattle and sheep
are still grazed, but only to keep the grass at the right height for
birdlife.

He has since bought the land outright and won additional subsidies
from the agriculture ministry under its Countryside Stewardship and
Environmentally Sensitive Areas schemes.

He refuses to disclose exactly how much he receives, fearing "it could
create the wrong impression", but points out that the land is now
protected under the new Countryside and Rights of Way Act and can
never be farmed again. "It was worth about £2,000 an acre as farmland
but now I'd get almost nothing."

Merricks's move to "growing" wildlife has won praise from English
Nature and the RSPB but makes many other farmers uneasy. Oliver
Walston, who farms 2,000 acres in Cambridgeshire, said farming was
about food production, not conservation. "Merricks is farming the
system, not the land," he said. Tim Yeo, the Tories' spokesman on
agriculture, said it was unacceptable for farmers to become entirely
dependent on conservation grants. "The principle of paying farmers to
preserve wildlife is fine, but not if it goes to such an extreme. The
primary purpose of the countryside and of the rural economy is food
production."

Merricks is far from alone in getting taxpayers' money to support
environment-friendly farming. Across England, a raft of schemes will
pay out more than £180m in 2001-02. The biggest, the Countryside
Stewardship scheme, will pay farmers £51m, a £15m increase on the
current period, with the next largest, the Environmentally Sensitive
Areas scheme, paying £48m. Such schemes currently pale besides the
£3.8 billion paid to British farmers to subsidise food production
under the European Union's common agricultural policy. Many believe,
however, that overproduction and falling farm prices mean the future
lies in switching much of this cash to conservation.

Environment groups have mixed feelings. Tony Juniper, head of
campaigns at Friends of the Earth, praised Merricks for promoting
wildlife but said that paying grants to farmers in perpetuity was not
sustainable.

"What we need is for farming to be integrated with wildlife interests
so that all farmers take account of conservation needs while also
producing food," he said. "Otherwise we will end up with most of the
countryside under intensive agriculture, with wildlife restricted to a
few scattered reserves."

Merricks has now bought a second arable farm on the border of Kent and
East Sussex, much of which he also plans to turn over to wildlife.
"Farmers should stop whingeing and groaning," he said. "The
countryside is about wildlife and recreation as well as food. This is
the future for so long as the taxpayer is willing to support us."

Oo
2007-01-20 06:14:51 EST
Sheep left to die
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.paulflynnmp.co.uk/mustreaddetail.jsp?id=211



The report of widespread over-claiming of sheep headage payments in
Novemeber 2000 reinforces the disturbing information in the article
below. It exposes vast waste and animal abuse.
Why do we pay farmers to let sheep die on a hillside?





On a scale of one to 10 the walk promised to be at least 11. Even on a
bad day the Cambrian mountains in west Wales are glorious. When the
sun shines, as it did last weekend, they are the next thing to
paradise.
We walked all day through hills dotted with majestic sessile oaks,
remnants of our oldest native woodlands, blazes of bluebells and
bright yellow celandine.

After the wettest April for 150 years, small springs bubbled out of
the earth to feed the streams cascading down the hillsides. They
joined the river at the valley bottom, making it broad and deep, and
we stopped to watch dozens of toads engaged in their curious mating
rituals in pools protected by rocks. High overhead a red kite - one of
only 150 pairs in Britain - rode the thermal currents.
We drank ice-cold water from the springs, nibbled the sweet leaves of
wood sorrel and picked the tips of new young ferns. They are called
fiddle heads and taste good fried with butter and garlic. In a long
day's walk we saw not another single living soul. I thought smugly of
bank holiday weekends in the Lake District, of traffic jams, of trail
bikes crowding the footpaths and the roar of power boats on
Windermere. It was the next day, taking a different route home, when
things went wrong.

The weather was hotter, and after climbing for hours it was good to
descend into the shade of the valley bottom. Then the smell hit us -
the stench of a rotting sheep. We skirted the corpse, not unduly
surprised; it is fairly common to see the odd dead sheep in Wales. But
further on there was another dead sheep and then another and another.
In half an hour of walking I counted dozens of carcasses, perhaps 40
or 50. Some had probably died giving birth, others perhaps of old age.
But there were dead lambs, too, and occasionally a live one that must
have lost its mother - bleating miserably and clearly too weak to
survive much longer.
The hillsides here were seriously overgrazed. The only wild flowers
were in cracks and crevices, too difficult for the sheep to get at.
There was an air of desolation about the place, a sense of nature
trying desperately to re-emerge but defeated by too many hungry
mouths. Let any young sapling or sprig of heather poke too far above
the soil and it would be a goner.
If you need any proof of the failure of this country's agricultural
policy, I recommend a visit.
Those dead sheep are a direct result of paying subsidies to farmers
for each animal they own to produce food that nobody wants. It is
difficult enough to make a living at the best of times rearing sheep
on the hills of Wales. When times are hard it is well nigh impossible.
So the farmers increase the head count to collect as much subsidy as
possible. The number of sheep in Wales increased almost fourfold in
the half-century after the last war.
The animals themselves are effectively worthless - no more than
statistics on a Brussels printout. So instead of concerned shepherds
keeping a careful eye on the flocks, you have some farmers who simply
abandon the sheep to their fate. At least the red kites can enjoy easy
pickings.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) produced a report last week that
said more than £1.6 billion is needed if Britain is to meet its
wildlife and countryside conservation targets. That is four times as
much as the government intends to spend.

The report confirmed what Richard Girling described so graphically in
this newspaper last month. The Norfolk county recorder of the British
Butterfly Conservation Society told him that if we extrapolate from
the current rate of decline "you couldn't reach any other conclusion
than that, at some time in the future, there will be no butterflies
left".
Other species are disappearing, too. The WWF says: "Steep de-clines in
bumblebee and farmland specialist bird populations show us that paying
for isolated spots of conservation is not enough."
So Gordon Brown must somehow be persuaded to cough up a little more
cash to save the birds and the bees and all will be well? Sadly no. If
we are serious about restoring this country to the green and pleasant
land it once was there must be a radical change in our whole attitude
to agriculture. There is little sign of that. The emphasis in the
latest policy document from the Ministry of Agriculture is, as it has
always been, on an "efficient and competitive" farming system. What it
fails to do is to define "efficient". Let me help.
Efficient in this context means intensive agriculture. It means
factory farms. It means killing everything that gets in the way of
maximum yields and forcing every last ear of corn from the soil with
tons of nitrogen and God knows what long-term damage to the soil
itself. Brown might also like to know that it means employing just one
or two farm workers on vast acreages where, in less intensive systems,
they would employ many more. Perhaps it makes sense to see the
countryside stripped of farm workers, or to pay for them to live on
the dole or to pay even more to "re-skill" them. I have my doubts.
Since Britain's farming policy changed after the war politicians have
had only one aim: the maximum yields possible, whatever the cost. It
made sense during the war when U-boats threatened us with starvation
but I cannot see those days returning - not even if the UK
Independence party wins the next election.
There are good, sound economic reasons for concentrating on food
quality instead of quantity. You can do an awful lot with £4 billion -
the cost of BSE alone. It would not have happened had quantity and
productivity not been king. Nor can it possibly make sense to import
the vast majority of our organic produce.

The reaction of the National Farmers' Union to the WWF report was
instructive: "We wholeheartedly agree with the WWF call for more
funding to be given to farmers to help them go green."
How grotesque that farming should ever have been anything but green.
Another report published last week suggested we may have to start
inoculating babies with bacteria to encourage resistance to diseases
such as asthma, which are spreading alarmingly. We have sterilised
everything to within an inch of its life to protect our children and
now we have to inject them with a bit of dirt.
With agriculture we have destroyed swathes of countryside with food
factories and now we talk of helping farmers to "go green". And they
say sheep are stupid.

j*s@sunday-times.co.uk


Oo
2007-01-20 06:32:35 EST
Fox-killing ban Works
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


http://www.paulflynnmp.co.uk/newsdetail.jsp?id=434


The first hunting day after the ban proves a l success.

Some foxes were killed and four arrests were made for killing a hare.
Hunts claim to be obeying the law by changing to drag hunts. That
means no cruelty, no jobs or pageantry lost and no horses or hounds
destroyed. One West Wales Hunt sought instructions from Germany on
running a drag hunt.

This is exactly what was intended by the ban. All hunters will lose is
their cruelty. When I asked the late Michael Colvin MP in a previous
bill’s debate, why he would not change to drag hunting he replied
'That would be like kissing your sister.'

All the hunters have lost is the sordid pleasure gained from killing a
living creature. Now, there is no need to breed foxes to be hunted.
The excuse of pest control was destroyed by the leaking of plea by the
Master of Foxhounds Association to breed more foxes to cope with the
current shortage.
Paul Flynn (Newport, West) (Lab): May we have a debate on early-day
motion 750?

[That this House hails the success of the ban of hunting with dogs;
welcomes the demonstration by 184 hunts that the ban does not destroy
jobs or traditional pageantry nor result in the destruction of horses
or hounds; notes that the only loss is the gratuitous cruelty of the
protracted chase of a small mammal bred for that purpose;
congratulates the vigilance of the police in arresting a group of
alleged hare coursers; and urges farmers and landowners to disregard
the request by Master of Foxhounds Association to counter the current
shortage of foxes by breeding more animals for hunting.]
Such a debate would enable us to congratulate and thank the 184 hunts
that last weekend demonstrated the great success of the ban on hunting
by proving that there need be no loss of jobs or traditional
pageantry, nor any hounds or horses destroyed, and that all that is
being lost is the cruelty of a protracted chase. Can we look forward
to the electors deciding that that cruelty will never return?

Mr. Hain: I completely endorse my hon. Friend's point. I think that
the electorate will want to maintain a ban on cruelty to animals and
will not want to vote Conservative for the Hunting Act to be
overturned and cruelty to animals to become widespread again.

EDM 13

SHORTAGE OF FOXES
23.11.04
Flynn/Paul

That this House agrees with Simon Hart, Chief Executive of the
Countryside Alliance, that his organisation would be ridiculed in
parliament on the publication of a letter sent by the Masters of Fox
Hounds Association to 800 hunt masters warning of the nationwide
'shortage of foxes' and urging landowners to breed more foxes to
'solve the problem'; and welcomes this further evidence that
foxhunting is unconnected with pest control but is devoted entirely to
sadistic pleasure derived from the protracted torment and death of
foxes, bred for that purpose.




Oo
2007-01-20 06:46:49 EST
In search of a poor farmer
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.paulflynnmp.co.uk/newsdetail.jsp?id=356

On scale of one to ten of inspiring drives, this one made eleven.

Leaving the Welsh Language centre at Nant Gwrtheyrn at dawn I drove
through Snowdonia to the secluded unspoilt village of Pentre Ifan. As
the morning mist cleared, the cloud-crowned mountains emerged. Here is
nature’s paradise.





Y Wawr

My rendezvous was with tenant farmer Glyn Roberts. He was out to
convince me that farming deserves subsidies. My job was to convince
him that Welsh manufacturing industry is the backbone of the Welsh
Economy which cannot take the strain of perpetually bankrolling
loss-making farming.

Steel, aluminium and high-tech firms in Newport have been forced to
accept the cruel discipline of the market and have suffered huge loses
of jobs and capacity. Farmers takes a handout-out of £10 a week from
every family in Wales and still cannot produce food that is worth the
costs of production.





Eryri / Snowdon


The views demolished one new myth. Farm unions claim that the
countryside would no longer be beautiful if farming declined or
ceased. Would rivers and lakes run dry, the mountains fall flat, the
clouds no longer garland the high places ? It's nature , not farming
that has created the majesty of Welsh scenery. Perhaps the wildest
most beautiful landscape in the world is in areas that have never been
farmed in Iceland and Scotland. Wales, cleansed of the unsightly
litter of the detritus of unplanned farming slums would be more
natural and far more attractive.

Dyn ffoddus yn ei elfen- Glyn Roberts - a fortunate man in his element


Glyn farms 200 acres in the village of Ysbyty Ifan that has seen few
changes in the past 100 years. He is the Chairperson of the Caernafon
Farmers Union of Wales but he is not a typical farmer. Nine of ten
Welsh farmers own their land, farms and farm buildings. This provides
them with assets of enormous value if they leave the industry. There
has been vast inflation and great demand for all these assets. Those
who choose to leave the industry and sell up, leave with large sums of
money from their sold assets. No steelworkers is given a chunk of a
blast furnace to sell off when their industries fold. Redundant
Newport steelworkers were given the princely sum of £2,500 for a
lifetime's work. That is less that the amount that valuers earned in a
day and half during the Foot and Mouth epidemic. It's the average
amount of compensation received by farmers for two culled cows. Some
had a 1,000 cows.
Glyn is one of the tenant farmers who have been neglected and
undermined by their own unions that are dominated by rich farmers.
Tenant farmers, however, are the ONLY ones that farm unions push
before the media . their task is to give a wholly untrue impression of
widespread farming poverty. Having spoken with Glyn in the past and
knowing him to be a reasonable man, I agreed to do the programme with
the caveat that Glyn represents the poorest ten per cent of farmers.

Uwch-tech S4C Hi-Tech


Glyn is far removed from the stumbling-yahoo stereotype of a Welsh
farmers described by R S Thomas. As part of the rich Welsh- language
rural culture, he talks with knowledge and enthusiasm of Welsh poetry,
religion and music.
With pride he introduced me to his wonderful family.

Credit must be given to Glyn for deploying the legendary wiles of the
Farmers’ Union of Wales.

It was a two pronged assault. In the morning I faced a verbal
battering from half a dozen farmers at Llanrwst market. It was
exhilarating. Their arguments were the tired ones of blaming the
Government, Europe and the Assembly for all their troubles. My case
was at least novel to them. From the 13th February 2001 when the first
case of Foot and Mouth occurred in the piggery of a negligent farmer
until the 23rd February, infected animals moved around 6 marts -
contacting more than a million animals. That was the reason that FMD
spread here like wildfire here. It was contained in the Netherlands
and elsewhere.

Videos and internet sales were successfully used during the epidemic.
They are cheap, efficient, remove the risk of infection and cut the
cost and stress of animal journeys. The Llanrwst farmers’ best
argument for marts is that they are pleasant social events and their
wives can do the shopping. No worry about a future epidemic because
the taxpayers will pick up the bill again.

The second prong on their assault was to move from hard men to gentle
persuasion of a charm offensive by the children of Ysgol Ysbyty Ifan.


Dear Mr Paul Flynn,

Thank you very much for coming to Ysbyty Ifan School today.

We hope you have enjoyed the sketch and it’s helped you to understand
the importance of agriculture in the countryside. Most of our fathers
work in the countryside and so we must get help to develop farming in
Wales in order to keep families like our families in the countryside,
or our villages and communities will die.

The people of the towns and cities must support us and understand that
AGRICULTURE is the HEART OF THE COUNTRYSIDE.

Yours truly,


The pupils of Ysgol Ysbyty Ifan.


The children delivered in impeccable Welsh, rarely heard in ones so
young, a fluent and persuasive plea for the continuation of subsidies
from urban to rural areas. As with most Welsh language schools, the
children had been tutored in verbal declamatory skills of a high
order. They are already enthusiastic eisteddfodwyr. I expressed my
heartfelt admiration for their performance.


Two of Glyn's five children are pupils in the village school. It was
joy to hear their easy fluency and pride in the Welsh language.
Utterly disarmed by their charm it was impossible´to open up a lively
debate. The main theme, demonstrated with a model of the human body
from which the heart was dramatically plucked out, was that school
would die without farm subsidies. It was not the occasion to point out
that the heart had already been torn out of the steel and aluminium
communities in my constituency. These days, transplants can be
organised.

Glyn Roberts prepared a report on the remarkable history of the
village of Ysbyty Ifan. The changes that have taken place over more
than a century have been very slight. In 1886 there were 72 pupils in
the school, 21 of whom were children from farms. Now there are 36
pupils in the school, and 31 of them have connections with farming.
Glyn claims that this proves that without agriculture the school and
village life would have collapsed. He presents a picture of a bubbling
and busy village life. Some of the activities listed are a little
unexpected, such as the “Committee for Funeral Food”.

The village remains overwhelmingly Welsh speaking and has done better
than most other similar villages in Wales in keeping a consistent and
continuos Welsh language life. What has disappeared from a
self-sufficient village is what was their mini industrial zone. The
buildings are still there that once housed a Blacksmith and a
Carpenter. Whilst Glyn argues that continuation of agriculture in the
way it has been conducted for centuries is the only hope for the
village an alternative argument is that local people should be at the
forefront of new developments in profitable agriculture rather than
relying on the handouts they have had for the last 50 years.

Glyn prepared some accounts of his business which were intended to
convince me that his income was of a low level.

He is among the poorest 10% of farmers. He relies on income he doesn’t
own the major assets of 90% of farmers of a farm house, farm
buildings, and very valuable land.

While I have no intention of revealing the bottom figure which was
shown as a profit on the farm it is far higher than the figure that is
normally given by Farmers’ Unions as an average for farm income. But
even as a tenant Glyn has the very valuable assets of his 1000 sheep
and 60 cattle.

Valuers, slaughtermen, vets and farm cleansers made inflated receive
inflated fees for their work during the epidemic.

During my trip to the market no-one would tell me what the price was
that the animals were fetching that day. The cries of 'devastation and
woe' from farmers during the FMD year expressed a transient pain. The
suffering of steel and aluminium workers was silent but terminal.

It is absolute certain that those farmers who received compensation
for their cattle made huge profits and restocked with healthy bank
balances. The industry remains pathologically dependent, subsidy
sensitive and market blind.

The impression I had from this lovely school was of a happy group of
people whose parents all appeared to be in employment. The case they
made was of one a future threat.

It is impossible for me to present a case for my constituents in
Newport without increasing the stigma from which they already suffer.
The contrast would have been stark. I could have taken them to a ward
in my constituency where 81.7% of children are judged to be living in
poverty. The majority of these children are from one-parent families.
Could I have asked how many chldren had not had breakfast that morning
?

I could have also brought along people who work for the minimum wage
as hospital porters or in residential homes for the elderly. Are they
happy to pay a substantial part of their disposal incomes to rich
farmers ? It is not possible to do this without inflicting cruel
exposure of peoples’ dire poverty. Glyn Roberts’ family are fortunate
in that they are living in an ancient detached property in beautiful
countryside. For 99% of my constituents their only hope of living in
such circumstances would be if they won the lottery.

The contrast between rural and urban is one of privileged rural and
deprived urban. Unfortunately it is not possible to present this
without adding to the problems of those in the urban areas whose
self-esteem would be further damaged in a programme of this kind.







Oo
2007-01-20 11:39:37 EST

http://tinyurl.com/2pzsv8

Make polluters pay

We need tough legislation to make sure polluters put right any damage
they cause to the environment.

The UK Government is implementing a new European law on environmental
liability. In theory it will help to prevent environmental harm and
shift the cost of putting things right from the taxpayer to the
polluter.


Polluters should pay for environmental damage

Unfortunately the Government wants to do the minimum required. This
approach would:

fail to protect all threatened species - e.g. 66% of protected species
in England including the water vole and red squirrel would not be
covered.
fail to cover protected sites – 25% of SSSIs would not be covered.
weaken existing domestic environmental protection regulation.
fail to cover damage to the environment from GM crops.
For more information about the environmental liability directive see
Genewatch's briefing.

Please email the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(Defra) in response to it's consultation on environmental liability.
Demand that the Government takes tough action to protect UK
biodiversity.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Email DEFRA
http://tinyurl.com/2pzsv8


Oo
2007-01-23 13:24:37 EST
On Tue, 23 Jan 2007 18:13:17 -0000, "Jim Webster"
<*m@websterpagebank.freeswerve.co.uk> wrote:

>
>"Derek Moody" <derek@farm-direct.co.uk> wrote in message
>news:ant212354b49BxcK@half-

>> Sheep left to die
>> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>> http://www.paulflynnmp.co.uk/mustreaddetail.jsp?id=211
>>
>>
>>
>> The report of widespread over-claiming of sheep headage payments in
>> Novemeber 2000 reinforces the disturbing information in the article
>> below. It exposes vast waste and animal abuse.
>> Why do we pay farmers to let sheep die on a hillside?
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> On a scale of one to 10 the walk promised to be at least 11. Even on a
>> bad day the Cambrian mountains in west Wales are glorious. When the
>> sun shines, as it did last weekend, they are the next thing to
>> paradise.
>> We walked all day through hills dotted with majestic sessile oaks,
>> remnants of our oldest native woodlands, blazes of bluebells and
>> bright yellow celandine.
>>
>> After the wettest April for 150 years, small springs bubbled out of
>> the earth to feed the streams cascading down the hillsides. They
>> joined the river at the valley bottom, making it broad and deep, and
>> we stopped to watch dozens of toads engaged in their curious mating
>> rituals in pools protected by rocks. High overhead a red kite - one of
>> only 150 pairs in Britain - rode the thermal currents.
>> We drank ice-cold water from the springs, nibbled the sweet leaves of
>> wood sorrel and picked the tips of new young ferns. They are called
>> fiddle heads and taste good fried with butter and garlic. In a long
>> day's walk we saw not another single living soul. I thought smugly of
>> bank holiday weekends in the Lake District, of traffic jams, of trail
>> bikes crowding the footpaths and the roar of power boats on
>> Windermere. It was the next day, taking a different route home, when
>> things went wrong.
>>
>> The weather was hotter, and after climbing for hours it was good to
>> descend into the shade of the valley bottom. Then the smell hit us -
>> the stench of a rotting sheep. We skirted the corpse, not unduly
>> surprised; it is fairly common to see the odd dead sheep in Wales. But
>> further on there was another dead sheep and then another and another.
>> In half an hour of walking I counted dozens of carcasses, perhaps 40
>> or 50. Some had probably died giving birth, others perhaps of old age.
>> But there were dead lambs, too, and occasionally a live one that must
>> have lost its mother - bleating miserably and clearly too weak to
>> survive much longer.
>> The hillsides here were seriously overgrazed. The only wild flowers
>> were in cracks and crevices, too difficult for the sheep to get at.
>> There was an air of desolation about the place, a sense of nature
>> trying desperately to re-emerge but defeated by too many hungry
>> mouths. Let any young sapling or sprig of heather poke too far above
>> the soil and it would be a goner.
>> If you need any proof of the failure of this country's agricultural
>> policy, I recommend a visit.
>> Those dead sheep are a direct result of paying subsidies to farmers
>> for each animal they own to produce food that nobody wants. It is
>> difficult enough to make a living at the best of times rearing sheep
>> on the hills of Wales. When times are hard it is well nigh impossible.
>> So the farmers increase the head count to collect as much subsidy as
>> possible. The number of sheep in Wales increased almost fourfold in
>> the half-century after the last war.
>> The animals themselves are effectively worthless - no more than
>> statistics on a Brussels printout. So instead of concerned shepherds
>> keeping a careful eye on the flocks, you have some farmers who simply
>> abandon the sheep to their fate. At least the red kites can enjoy easy
>> pickings.
>>
>> The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) produced a report last week that
>> said more than £1.6 billion is needed if Britain is to meet its
>> wildlife and countryside conservation targets. That is four times as
>> much as the government intends to spend.
>>
>> The report confirmed what Richard Girling described so graphically in
>> this newspaper last month. The Norfolk county recorder of the British
>> Butterfly Conservation Society told him that if we extrapolate from
>> the current rate of decline "you couldn't reach any other conclusion
>> than that, at some time in the future, there will be no butterflies
>> left".
>> Other species are disappearing, too. The WWF says: "Steep de-clines in
>> bumblebee and farmland specialist bird populations show us that paying
>> for isolated spots of conservation is not enough."
>> So Gordon Brown must somehow be persuaded to cough up a little more
>> cash to save the birds and the bees and all will be well? Sadly no. If
>> we are serious about restoring this country to the green and pleasant
>> land it once was there must be a radical change in our whole attitude
>> to agriculture. There is little sign of that. The emphasis in the
>> latest policy document from the Ministry of Agriculture is, as it has
>> always been, on an "efficient and competitive" farming system. What it
>> fails to do is to define "efficient". Let me help.
>> Efficient in this context means intensive agriculture. It means
>> factory farms. It means killing everything that gets in the way of
>> maximum yields and forcing every last ear of corn from the soil with
>> tons of nitrogen and God knows what long-term damage to the soil
>> itself. Brown might also like to know that it means employing just one
>> or two farm workers on vast acreages where, in less intensive systems,
>> they would employ many more. Perhaps it makes sense to see the
>> countryside stripped of farm workers, or to pay for them to live on
>> the dole or to pay even more to "re-skill" them. I have my doubts.
>> Since Britain's farming policy changed after the war politicians have
>> had only one aim: the maximum yields possible, whatever the cost. It
>> made sense during the war when U-boats threatened us with starvation
>> but I cannot see those days returning - not even if the UK
>> Independence party wins the next election.
>> There are good, sound economic reasons for concentrating on food
>> quality instead of quantity. You can do an awful lot with £4 billion -
>> the cost of BSE alone. It would not have happened had quantity and
>> productivity not been king. Nor can it possibly make sense to import
>> the vast majority of our organic produce.
>>
>> The reaction of the National Farmers' Union to the WWF report was
>> instructive: "We wholeheartedly agree with the WWF call for more
>> funding to be given to farmers to help them go green."
>> How grotesque that farming should ever have been anything but green.
>> Another report published last week suggested we may have to start
>> inoculating babies with bacteria to encourage resistance to diseases
>> such as asthma, which are spreading alarmingly. We have sterilised
>> everything to within an inch of its life to protect our children and
>> now we have to inject them with a bit of dirt.
>> With agriculture we have destroyed swathes of countryside with food
>> factories and now we talk of helping farmers to "go green". And they
>> say sheep are stupid.
>>
>> john.humphrys@sunday-times.co.uk
>

>> As we never read the stuff before forwarding it it quite often means the
>> opposite of what we presume he assumes in any case, assuming he did presume in the fore.
>>
>> Cheerio,
>>
>
>not only that but he still hasn't twigged that for his ilk the good times
>are over. Food prices are going to go up with a bang over the next few years
>along with energy

A major reason to get rid of meat diets.

The question is not, can we afford a vegetarian diet, but can we not
afford one!

I'll be happy to pay ten times what I pay now, to see filth like you
taken out of the food chain. How rednecks like you could condemn
society to a cruel fate, is a crime against humanity. You best keep on
your toes now that we know who you are!

Still, you'll always have cannibalism.


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