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'Food' for Thought

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2002

Farming Matters!
Facts and figures

and

Countryside Matters!
'Burning Issues'

Index 2002

'Food' for Thought 2003: - including the GM crops debate

British Food Fortnight:- October 26th 2002

Lord Haskins Speech - a Response:- July 02
following the Labour Party Rural Conference

Fair Trade and Milk Miles:- March 02
Fair trade for British farmers and concern about 'food miles' for milk.

Farm Subsidies - who profits?:- February 02
The farm subsidy programme can be compared to.........


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Farming Matters!
Facts and figures

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Countryside Matters!
'Burning Issues'
2002

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Farm Subsidies - who profits?

The farm subsidy programme can be compared to the minimum wage. The ‘Legal Minimum Wage’ law sets a floor on payments by employers to workers. Suppose The Government changed this programme and permitted business owners to pay whatever they wanted for a wage while requiring the worker to collect the difference between the minimum wage and what his/her employer pays from the Social Security office. In this example who is being subsidised? While the worker still earns the minimum wage, the employer is being subsidised because he receives the benefit.

Farm subsidies function much the same way. The price of barley for feed is around £65 a tonne. Few farmers even in the eastern counties of England can genuinely grow grain across their whole acreage for less than £80 a tonne. The IACS ‘subsidy’ cheque goes to make up the difference. Cargill and other trans-national corporations each purchased millions of tonnes of grain this last year for less than the cost of production because they have no competition. This applies world-wide, as other countries, chiefly the U.S.A. and Canada also pay ‘subsidies’. The effect of subsidies is to reduce the price paid by the wholesale grain merchants. Under present conditions if the subsidy were to be increased, the wholesale price paid to the producer would fall. It would not increase the profit gained by the farmer.

The truth is that all farmers, regardless of size, must use the subsidy just to raise the value received for their commodity above the cost of production. In most instances, the cost of production is covered and something is left over for living expenses. In practically no instance is anything left over that would be considered a return on investment (land and equity).

The wholesaler, processor, retailer and consumer are being susidised, not the producer.



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See also
'Burning Issues' 2002

Main index
Further
'Food for Thought'

Farming Matters!
Facts and figures

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Countryside Matters!
'Burning Issues'
2002

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Fair Trade and Milk Miles

Fair Trade Fortnight is a reminder that the ‘farm-gate’ price of food is often below the real cost of production. I have long been a supporter of fair traded goods. Most of these are imported from the ‘Third World’, are things which we cannot produce for ourselves (like coffee,tea and bananas) and of necessity involve transport over long distances. However what about a fair - trade deal for U.K. farmers? This could cut down on transport on roads in the U.K., would reduce costs by cutting out the ‘middle man’, and would give increased returns to our beleaguered producers.

In the very week that the break-up of the Antarctic ice cap has reached alarming proportions and the Government calls for a fundamental and dramatic change in society to address global warming we find Tesco changing its organic milk policy to one which will dramatically increase ‘food miles’!

As from April, all Tesco organic milk will be processed in Essex by Arla Foods. Good news for farmers in the South East of England. Bad news for organic dairy farmers in the rest of the British Isles. Essex is not what one would call ‘central’ for transport purposes. Raw milk travelling hundreds of miles for processing, hundreds of miles back again to the stores, using precious fossil fuel and creating more global warming! Not to mention the time between leaving the cow and finally arriving on our tables!

The supermarkets pay lip service to buying from local producers but when it comes to a moneyspinner like milk they immediately go for the most profitable option.

What to do? Seek out a local organic milk producer and buy local. If there isn’t one in your area start making noises. Someone may be looking for an opportunity to add value to their locally produced milk and with encouragement may make the effort to set up their own processing plant.

If a few more producers could process their own we would all benefit. The tragedy is that the Government is long on words but short on action.

Please can we have locally produced, locally processed, fairly traded, non-homogenised organic milk. Better for the planet, better for the producer, better for us!

T.W.B. March 2002



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See also
'Burning Issues' 2002
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Further
'Food for Thought'

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'Food for Thought'
British Food Fortnight


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Farming Matters!
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'Burning Issues'
2002

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Buy British - Buy Local

There have been a number of initiatives taking place over the last year to encourage people to buy local. 'Eat the view' and statistics on the benefits to the local economy have helped to bring this to peoples' attention. Now, starting on the 26th October we are seeing the first British Food Fortnight.

This is a celebration of all that is best about genuine British Food and an incentive to ask for it in our local butchers, greengrocers, farmers' markets and other small retail outlets.Restaurants, pubs and hotels are also being asked to serve regional food.

Can we encourage you to 'do your bit' for British farmers and producers by buying British in these next two weeks, and after. That way we can support our local economies, maintain our countryside and be sure of food produced to high welfare standards.

No local shops - only supermarkets left in your area?

In some areas all the small local retailers have already closed. If you live in such an area where only the supermarkets are left then remember to check that the food was actually produced and not just processed here! We should then also be asking questions about 'food miles', local sourcing and whether the primary producer (the farmer) has received a fair price for his goods or whether, like milk, the sum paid was below the cost of production. A 'Fair Trade' sign for British food could be the next good idea.

For more information on British Food Fortnight visit www.britishfoodfortnight.co.uk




Main index
See also
Burning Issues 2002
Main index
Further
Food for Thought 2002

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'Food for Thought'


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Farming Matters!
Facts and figures

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'Burning Issues'
2002

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Lord Haskins Speech on Farming -
a Response

July 23 2002

Lord Haskins in his speech to the Rural Conference organised by the Labour Party at Newport in Shropshire over the weekend of 19th - 21st July has again shown where his interest lies.

As the recently retired chairman of ‘Northern Foods’, one of the largest food processing companies in the U.K., he is obviously committed to the processing, rather than the production side of the food chain.

His agenda, as a processor, must be in the large scale provision of a uniform standardised product, easy to process and package, giving good returns for his company. (He is a Yorkshire businessman remember!)

Sadly, his reported intemperate remarks about Prince Charles, small farmers, traditionalists and the organic movement have not gone down well in a community already distrustful of him and his point of view. According to him, the emphasis should still be placed on intensive, ‘industrial’ farming as in the corn growing and sugar beet country of East Anglia. The contrast between there and the smaller fields and farmsteads of the west and north of Britain is very marked and yet totally ignored by Lord Haskins and other special ‘advisors’.

No guidance is given as to how small hill fields can be farmed with new efficiency, nor are there any new ideas as to gaining a share in the emerging ‘Global Market’.

Unfortunately many of the remarks made by his lordship are at variance with the growing ground-swell of private and public opinion. Many are now speaking out against the waste of resources, the growing problem of refuse disposal, (how many layers of packaging are there on an ‘oven-ready’ reconstituted lamb chop meal?), the true cost of ‘food miles’ on the environment, animal welfare ..... the list is endless. On top of this, how safe are some of the artificial chemical additives used in processed food? This is a question now being asked by some health professionals and others.

A famous preacher once left his notes behind in the pulpit where they were found by a church steward. It had sounded an excellent sermon and the steward read it through again out of interest. Imagine his surprise when he noticed, at a key point, a sentence underlined in red with a note in the margin in the same colour.... Shout here, point weak!

T. Brighton, July 2002


Main index
See
‘Food Miles’
Northern Foods - a review by
'Corporate Watch'
See also
‘Food Additives’
also
Burning Issues 2002
Main indexFurther
Food for Thought 2002