Bitter harvest?

Around where I live the combines are out in the fields working by day and into the night.  It’s a bit unusual that some farmers are getting in their wheat before the end of the barley or rape harvests.  The high prices of wheat mean that everything depends on a good wheat harvest and yields in this part of the world aren’t looking too bad at the moment, although areas hit harder by the late spring drought will be expecting low yields.

But I am afraid that wildlife futures don’t look like a good buy if what is suggested in a leaked document from the EU comes to pass.  This document suggests the removal of the rule which stipulates how much EU countries must spend on the environment from Pillar 2 payments.  It would open the way for more money from Pillar 2 to be spent on ‘innovation, risk management and competitiveness’.

I did warn readers of this blog that this might happen when I wrote on 1 July as follows:

‘I would be wary over the next few months about any moves to pillage Pillar 2 in order to spend more money on ‘competitiveness’ instead of using it for environmental recovery.  Notice how the NFU, and the CLA, always use the word competitiveness so freely.  And Agriculture Minister Jim Paice is also fond of using this term.  Be wary of moves to syphon off money that could be spent effectively on Higher Level Stewardship projects which will help protect the landscape and nurture nature  and instead spend it on further industrialisation of the countryside.’.

This move should be watched like a hawk (a very persecuted species) and combatted with every means possible.  Otherwise money that helps good farmers protect the depleted wildlife in the countryside will be spent on a wide variety of schemes that will have no environmental benefit.  To increase the level of hand-outs of your money to deliver competitiveness is an oxymoron.  Handing out taxpayers’ money for risk management just transfers the risks from farmers (who are businessmen) to taxpayers and wildlife.

If these moves happen then there will be precious little reason for environmental organisations to support the protection of money going into farming.  In fact, I would say that we are close to the point where that support is maintained through habit rather than logic.

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3 Replies to “Bitter harvest?”

  1. Completely agree with those sentiments, Mark. Call me a hoary, embittered old cynic, but the line between providing subsidies to farmers through habit rather than logic has always been porous and ill-defined. Indeed, one wonders whether it might not be better to remove *all* non-environmental subsidy, thereby making the environmental subsidies that bit more attractive - presumably the farmers would still make a profit from the actual activity of farming? Or is that too simplistic - surely this isn't an industry that doesn't make a profit without a subsidy? If it is, it begs the question of how we have allowed this state of affairs to come to pass... and whether it should be allowed to continue unchecked.

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  2. I've just been invited to London to look at the white paper until I noticed it would cost me £495. Some invite. Just like Europe they do not want to hear the views of common people who might actually know something.

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