For too long British farms have been in decline. For too long successive governments have been happy to outsource agricultural production to the 3rd world, driving down food prices, and as a consequence, the income of farmers.
The intensive care unit that has been sustaining British agriculture has been the subsidies paid to British farmers by the European Union. Farmers have been paid between £2.5 and £3 billion annually. Though this is ostensibly an EU payment, in reality it is taken wholesale from British contributions to the EU. Therefore Brexit will allow us to continue this level of subsidy to our farmers with no additional costs.
However our farmers deserve better than managed decline, and thus more money is necessary in order for them to upgrade their machinery, employ the labour they so desperately need, and carry out regular maintenance on their outbuildings.
With the revelation that some 3000 suspected extremists are being monitored by British security services, the first port of call is to deport all of that number who are foreign born, and put those savings directly into additional farming subsidies.
But while money always helps, it’s not a comprehensive solution.
It’s vital that we protect our national agricultural industry by implementing tariffs on cheap foreign exports, and by ensuring that British produce is consumed internally and not exported. With British agriculture producing 60% of our necessary food, the other 40% must be imported by virtue of necessity. The 40% imported to meet demand should face little no tariffs, while surplus imports should face prohibitive tariffs. We should aim long term to reduce our dependency on imports to such a point that Britain is entirely self sufficient in its food production. It’s too vital a role to outsource to other nations, and the benefits self sufficiency will bring in terms of jobs and the diversification of the economy will be vast.
To avoid passing on the higher running costs of British farms to consumers, this programme would include a subsidy for consumers also. Though shops will pay farmers a higher price consumers will continue to pay the lower rates they are accustomed to at the present time, with the excess costs being covered by the Government via direct payments to retailers. This cost in turn would be paid for by an equivalent tax hike on fast food and sugary sweets.
These policies would lead to affordable home grown produce being consumed in favour of unhealthy options, thus incentivising employment in the agricultural sector, diversifying the economy, reducing the colossal obesity bill crippling our NHS and act as a giant leap towards self sufficiency.
When national agriculture meets 110% of need, not only could we do away with imports entirely, but we could export our own goods at a competitive rate, thanks to the fall in the value of sterling.
There are almost one million apprentices in this country. Too many are de facto wage slaves to multi national corporations, under the guise of ‘on the job’ training. Let’s take capable apprentices and offer them opportunities to work in rural areas with and for farmers, who need the labour far more than Starbucks or Poundland.
Policies such are these must be adopted by parties on the left to win over the votes of the almost half a million agricultural workers in the UK, who as of the time of writing have no party fighting their corner. We should be looking to get young people out of the call centre and into the cattle fields in order to create dignified jobs and end our over reliance on shallow service jobs.
Let’s make agriculture the jewel in the British crown.
Let’s Make Farming Great Again.