Following the Brexit vote, we are in for some of the biggest changes in our food and farming for generations - perhaps for over 150 years. Some believe that the world is our oyster and we are going to become a land of milk and honey. Others think the world is our lobster (to borrow from George Cole in Minder) and about to bite us back - bigstyle. In terms of subsidies, standards, regulations, imports, exports, tariffs and quotas - all built up over 40 years - we have a lot to loose and not much to gain in terms of where our meals are going to come from to feed our next generation.
This site follows on from the publication of the book 'Bittersweet Brexit; The Future of Food, Farming, Land and Labour', written by Dr Charlie Clutterbuck (as seen on BBC Gardeners World) and published by Pluto Press on Oct 16 World Food Day 2107. openDemocracy included Bittersweet Brexit in their 'Best political books of 2017'. This site carries on the many debates set up in the book, and includes the book's index, to give you an idea of what it covers.
The book proposes a series of positive actions we can take to promote a redder/greener approach to our food and farming. To do so, we need to get our hands on the previous EU CAP subsidies - worth around £3+Billion. At present these go to landowners - for owning the land, rather than doing anything with it.
At the same time, consumers want cheaper food - and this costs the earth. Also many people won't do the work, as wages, conditions and prospects are dreadful. So to enable cheap food but provide better conditions and better environmental impact, why don't we use those CAP funds to fund workers instead. It could pay 300,000 permanent workers an extra £10,000 each - making it a decent living wage.
The longer aim is to reduce the amount of food imported - nearly half of what we eat. Most comes from the EU, so imports are likely to cost more with border controls - whether just health or customs. If we reduced food imports by half - to roughly same value as we export, we could pay ourselves $33 billion. Yes, dollars as that is what international agencies use to calculate imports/exports. Imagine what we could do with that sort of money for our rural economies and for our social care.
Brexit was about a lot more than just 'immigration' although that was important. In particular many people are fed up of 'austerity'. Since the banking crash, our schools, hospitals, libraries, police prisons a have all felt the pinch - or rather - pain. The Prime Minister says that there is no such thing as a 'magic money tree'. Yet there is a orchard of them in the City of London, open only to bankers. It is called Quantitative Easing, enabling bankers to pick the bounteous harvest of £350 bn. What if we had that sort of sum of money? We could create a fabulous system of food and farming - healthy for us and the planet. More on the two Magic Money Trees - the state and the banks.
House of Lords debate Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Economies said "Most agree that maximising the benefits of this once-in-a-generation opportunity requires the key challenges arising from Brexit to be successfully resolved. These are: the need for frictionless access to existing and new export markets; for continued access to a skilled and competent work force; for a domestic market that is a level playing field and is not suddenly exposed to cut-price imports, with inferior environmental and animal welfare standards; and for a targeted support system with, importantly, the UK and the devolved Administrations working together in a creative and constructive manner."
Farm devolution row brewing. Farming is a 'devolved' issue. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each have their own views on farming - witness the different Agricultural Wages Boards. But there are signs that Britain (or is that England?) is grabbing all farming powers. Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, said that it would be “utterly unacceptable” for Westminster to reclaim oversight of farming and fishing policy. Any such move would “fundamentally undermine the basis of the existing devolution settlement”. Agricultural power grab could break up UK: "The Welsh Governments has agreed with the Withdrawal Bill Predicted impact on Welsh farming. Scotland overwhelmingly voted against in order to prevent Westminster stripping powers from them regarding devolved matters - such as agriculture. Are our leaders’ cold feet now leaving Scottish farmers and crofters out in the cold? Northern Ireland may pay farmers a guaranteed minimum payment - less than present subsidies - topped up for improved water quality and habitat protection. But they have more on their mind - the toffee called Border Fudge.
Agriculture could be out of the transition arrangement Scottish Office Minister Ian Duncan shocked farmers and the devolved regions by suggesting the UK will have its own agricultural policy by exit date in March 2019. Lord Duncan claimed the bombshell move was DEFRA Secretary Michael Gove’s ‘clear negotiating position’. Apparently Brexit talks could be made easier by taking CAP out of the equation, but the devolved regions appear to be completely in the dark. Institute for government sets out 8 'challenges' for devolution of the environment, agriculture and fisheries.
To search the site, click the magnifying icon, top right. Most of this site is my description of what is happening. When I want to make a clear comment, it is in italics.