The CAP coalition, led by the NFU, the CLA and the TFA, met at the Great Yorkshire Show on 9 July to reinforce their simple message to Government: Keep sending the cheques!
The CAP coalition claims to represent the interest of the rural economy but is actually largely a bunch of recipients of taxpayers’ money with a vested selfish interest in keeping the gravy train on the tracks. They are worried that subsidy cheques might be cut a little bit in future, having sailed through the last few years unnoticed and unscathed.
Judging from the composition of this group, the interests of the rural economy don’t, for example, include tourism it seems. Or forestry. Or small petrol stations. Or country pubs. Or post offices. No, if you are a recipient of large CAP cheques from the taxpayer then that’s what the rural economy is all about.
CLA Deputy President Henry Robinson (who is a very nice man and must be somewhat embarrassed having to say things like this) said: “Government has failed to explain to farmers and land-managers what it intends to use this money for. We believe that it is wrong to start from the premise that the maximum amount of money must be transferred from pillar one to pillar two. What is required is a quantifiable analysis that establishes how any transferred funds will impact on English farmers.”
Well, Henry, there you go! Maybe you should put in an FoI request to Defra asking for their detailed thoughts on the subject – that always works! Or you could just live in the real world which is in recession. You hadn’t noticed? Good for the CLA! As the government hacks its way through spending on almost every aspect of our lives do you really expect them to stop and tell you their spending plans if they give your members a little bit less of poor people’s money? It’s not really as though the poor people are going to get their money back is it? No the money will go into reducing the deficit, or maybe, it is to be hoped, that some of it might go into reducing the decline of public services.
George Dunn, CEO of the Tenant Farmers’ Association, said: “English farmers are rightly proud of their environmental credentials and their ability to produce world class product for the British public.” which, if true, means that English farmers are a pretty complacent bunch. George – you are sounding just like the NFU – is that what you really want? The NFU didn’t suggest that line to you did they? Are you really proud of the fact that wildlife is bleeding from the countryside, as documented, yet again, in the recent State of Nature report? So, you are proud that 60% of farmland species are declining? And that a third of farmland wildlife is declining strongly? And that one in seven farmland plants are on the national Red List because of their parlous state? Would you like to reconsider that remark by any chance?
The NFU, in the shape of Deputy President Meurig Raymond remained true to form and took a more openly anti-environmental approach: “I cannot stress strongly enough the feeling of frustration amongst farmers to hear on the one hand, the Government’s backing for British food production, but its determination to disadvantage and undermine English farmers resilience compared to our European competitors on the other hand. Mr Paterson wants us to focus on making the sector more efficient and productive than its global rivals. I just don’t see how cutting English farmers’ payments and channelling more money to environmental schemes that take land out of production and increase costs will do that. ”
With such nonsense being spoken it is tempting to think that other quotes might have been excised from the press release. Surely these members of the ‘CAP coalition’ didn’t say these things?:
Dairy Crest and Dairy UK: ‘The taxpayer should be milked for all she is worth’.
Bernard Matthews farms: ‘All that money – it’s booootiful!’.
British Sugar: ‘It’s so sweet’.
LEAF: ‘Every time we are associated with nonsense like this our environmental credentials take a real kicking but maybe nobody will notice. We are thinking of changing our name to DEAF because we don’t really listen to the needs of the environment; when the NFU and CLA say ‘Jump!’ we simply ask ‘How high?”.
Yara: ‘You’ve never heard of us? We are the world’s largest producer and marketer of mineral fertilisers. Yabba Dabba Doo!’.
This blog tried to get quotes extolling the value of the current CAP handouts from wildlife species but small skippers, cornflowers and skylarks were unavailable for comment.