EVEN CHEAPER FOOD!
Up will go the cry for cheaper food. This will appeal to those in the City who want cheaper food to run a cheaper economy, those who count their coins and think their shopping bill will come down, and those who think it can sort the Food Banks.
'Cheap food' is becoming a more important call for 'free marketeers' to justify coming out of both the Single Market (responsible for standards) and the Customs Union (responsible for tariffs). Listen from the horse's mouth
'Mr Brexit' says: "We could have cheaper food, we could buy food from Africa, we could buy from all over without the current tariffs put on. We could have cheaper food, but I take your point... it could be lowering of standards in terms of what you buy in the shops and it could be bad news for British farmers" Not arf Nige
Farmers Guardian poll finds over 60% people believe we will import more food in future
'Cheap' food costs the earth "‘Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.’Cree Indian Prophecy
However there are those who want the tariffs removed once we have the control to do that. The 'City' will love this as they can stuff themselves even more cheaply, but more importantly cheap food can stuff those really poor bastards more cheaply. While our rural economies will be tatters, lamb farms to the slaughter, these City folk will have a romantic image of the countryside encouraged by Gove's 'Green Brexit' plans.
But what is most bizarre about this is that to do so would wreck any chance of making any deals. We would have thrown away our hand (tariffs!!), before we tried to do a free trade deal. Andrew Neil pointed this out to..
They are not bothered at the price we pay to OUR
1. Standards 2 Trade 3 Land workers 4 Environment 5 Friends abroad
1. Food Standards & Single MarketA major aspect of the Single Market, promoted by Mrs Thatcher who promoted the concept of a 'Single' Market. To deal with over production of food, onw way was to make (and sell) higher standards - which would be worthwhile only if it got you into the largest Single Market in the world. Walking away from that means reducing standards. Night follows day. That is the only way we will be able to negotiate new food trade deals to make up for that lost to EU. Half of our imported food comes from the EU. Extra food exports (mainly booze) are aimed to bring a further £3b. Who is kiddin who?
2 Trade & Customs UnionWe do very nicely with trade deals across the world now, part of a powerful negotiator - the EU. To do our free trade deals, we must come out of the Customs Union - which has complex tariff arrangements with the rest of the world, including 60 FTAs, and most recently an FTA with Canada and Japan. We have to renegotiate these, and it will not be a cut/paste job. There are over 2000 tariffs on agricultural goods, with 'goods' like sheep there may be several tariffs - for chops, mutton, offal etc. Then there are 15000 of food products - mixtures of substances like fats and flours, provided they all conform to 'country of origin'. There can be different rates for the same product from different countries. Banana from Commonwealth countries do not attract a tariff whereas South American bananas do. That is thanks to UK intervention to the EU
3. Subsidise workers not ownersObesity is related to our eating more ultra processed foods - We are the most obese country in the EU, spend less on food, and eat more ultra-processed foods (50%). Will 'cheaper' food help this? No It will make matters worse. Obesity is not just about what we eat , but also the way we feel. And we need to feel better to eat better. That does not include awful jobs with awful conditions and wages. We want to pay works in food and farming a decent living wage. Start with those CAP subsidies. Instead of relying on the market, determine guaranteed prices for food stuffs we want more of - fruits and vegetables. We also want them grown in more sustainable ways, not eroding the soil, for which we will have to pay decent wages. If local, that will then go back into the rural communities.
4. EnvironmentWhile we import about 50% of our food (by value) the environmental damage that this causes is disproportionate. 2/3 of the GHGs which contribute to our 'Food Footprint', come from abroad, while we use about twice as much land abroad as we use here to grow stuff. Imagine how much of other peoples' valuable water we are using (stats please - eg 20 Niles worth of 'virtual' water used to grow fruit & veg going to EU. Instead of using other peoples resources, land and labour, and them going dry, we should encourage those countries to develop economies on the back of those crops - instead of relying on a volatile market out of their control
5 Friends Abroad
Healthy Homegrown v Cheap ImportedWe are going to have to make the case that we should produce much more of our own food. 25 years ago we imported a quarter of our food, now it is a half. We need to get back to a quarter, and in so doing do our selves a favour, the planet a favour and our overseas friend's land labour a favour.
'Homegrown' has to be a lot wider than the NFU, as it has to involve smaller farms and communities. And the simple 'union jack' on the bag is not enough either. The union jack does not provide for good soil or good working conditions, both of which are crucial for the future.
This issue has direct analogy with the Repeal of the Corn Laws over 150 years ago, but is being nodded through almost without a word of protest. 'Look what we are doing for the countryside!' By coming out of the Single Market, and the Customs Union, there will be more cheap food imports - part of virtually all the proposed free trade agreements (FTAs). This will make it more difficult for rural economies, for farmers considering investment, and for paying workers a decent living wage.
We spend less on our food (less than 10%) than anyone else in the EU, we are fatter than anybody else, and we eat more ultra-processed food. Even more cheaper food will surely make matters worse