A crisis for the NFU?

NFU members discuss the prospects of a hard Brexit.

Brexit means Brexit, and we now can be sure that it means a pretty stiff Brexit if not a hard one.  This isn’t what most British farmers wanted but it’s what they are going to get. And it is going to be tough for them.

I remember talking to a local sheep farmer about a year ago and him telling me that he was emotionally keen on getting out of the EU with all its annoying red tape and regulation but his head told him that he was better off in a gang where the French and German governments had farmers at the front of their minds rather than relying on British politicians who didn’t have a clue.  I wonder what he thinks now.

Farming will be hit by the loss of the single market and an increased ability for cheap food from across the world to enter the UK. Labour costs may also rise if your average Fenland farmer has to employ Kevin the teenager down the road to work in his fields rather an eastern European who is prepared for a few months of living in a caravan in return for what his earnings will buy him back home.

Land prices may fall as a result, and they may fall further as an English agriculture policy (other national agriculture policies will be available) strips away untargetted income support to farming as the NHS draws more sympathy-gaining headlines than barley barons.

It seems that farmers’ so-called leaders are looking for a silver lining from TM the PM’s speech this week but have failed to find one. The response of the NFU is particularly weak and the organisation appears to be as confused as a rabbit in the tractor headlights.

Over the years, the NFU has been taken over by the agri-farming business at the expense of most normal farmers – and that is the responsibility of farmers because they do vote for the people who run the NFU, theoretically on their behalves. Have a look at this Ethical Consumer report about the NFU which has a lot of good stuff in it but even though it was published last week it looks a bit dated now with the Brexit direction set as it is for a pretty hard outcome.

The fact of the matter is that those who have been running the NFU have been personally and ideologically wedded to free trade and have been encouraged in that direction by agri-business whereas the majority of normal farmers would be better off and distinctly more comfortable with the CAP. It’s not surprising that Welsh sheep farmers aren’t wildly enthusiastic about hard Brexit.

Maybe the NFU will now tear itself apart – because outside of the EU it is no longer obvious that the different agricultural sectors have more in common than divides them. Milk and cereals – completely different businesses, particularly out of a common CAP. Different farming sectors have different friends and foes, and it would be good for them to realise that the public should be a friend, and that other sectors of farming might be more often foes. Just because a barley baron and my local sheep farmer both live in buildings in the countryside called farmhouses doesn’t mean that their business interests coincide, and nor necessarily do their world views of what farming is all about.

I’d like to see the NFU fall apart.  For long it has been, in my eyes, an anti-environment organisation (see here, here and here). It would be far easier for environmentalists inside and outside government to forge much closer links with smaller, more sectoral, farming unions where the relationship could address more of the practical issues and fewer of the high-flown international policy issues.

 

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44 Replies to “A crisis for the NFU?”

  1. Since farmers (and fishermen) have long been one of the sources of the little britain poison the Daily Mail thrives on, all I can say is good! I hope it breaks not only the NFU but the whole bloody lot of them. They were one of the driving forces that got us into this mess, they should be in the vanguard of bearing the brunt of the damage. They deserve everything they are going to get.

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    1. The vast majority of my farming clients and farmers I know were firmly in favour of remaining in the EU, and we know that the NFU council voted overwhelmingly to remain. And given that UK farmers account for less than 0.03% of the UK electorate it is as ludicrous to cite them as a driving force for Brexit as it is reckless to wish that leaving the EU 'breaks the whole bloody lot of them'.

      Be very careful what you wish for.

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      1. Every farmer I've ever known, and I've known more than a few, has been a fully paid up member of the health and safety and human rights are bad and forced on us by the EU brigade, they have all been members of the loudest voice in the pub party too when denouncing anything modern in favour of the good old days when "gerrof moi larnd" was the order of the day and they got to bring out the shotgun and rocksalt for people they didn't like, and the sort to make veiled threats too. Bully boys who give people that disagree a thumping, for not being very careful what they wished for, and who enjoyed their blood sports and thumbing their nose at whatever passed for the police. They all supported backwards bloodsports and the countryside alliance.

        They are exactly the people who inspired the toxic little britain attitude that drove Brexit. Well I have thought very carefully about what I wish for, and that is for those bully boys to take a good hard thumping for their good old days attitude and I won't be threatened off that. Take that to your next NFU meeting.

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        1. I'm not sure you could have wheeled out any more lazy stereotypes there if you tried - what a dreary, depressing view of farmers you have. I can only conclude that you don't actually know that many and have opted to typecast a whole industry on the basis of some pub talk and guff written by boozy right-wing hack's who are in the employ of the Daily Moseley.

          Farming is not that different to many other industries in that the people who working in the industry have a diverse range of attitudes, opinions and outlooks. Try getting out there and talking to some of them.

          The first victims of a free-market agricultural free-for-all would be the smaller extensively managed HNV farms that many of us value, and the winners will be big agri-businesses that will rapidly consolidate on the back of falling land prices and lower unit costs. Admittedly there may be some opportunities in the uplands, but I can't see the funding being available to fully realise them.

          PS - NFU meeting?

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          1. I've been on the end of enough farmer's fists for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and heard them braying enough. If farmers, particularly the small farmers, don't like being accused of being stereotypes then they should stop being stereotypes. They have been poisoning the well with Daily Mail views for long enough, sorry if they are offended by mentioning it when their political chickens come home to roost.

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        2. If random22 is called a conservationist then that is exactly the reason farmers will not bother to do things that would help wildlife.
          He/she is welcome to there views but as in everything there can be consequences from such pathetic extreme views.
          I will add that I have almost always been a critic of NFU but they are much less powerful than conservationists believe.
          It is way past time farmers and conservationists sang from the samme hymn sheet and lots of programs involving RSPB would have failed without co-operation of farmers.
          Too many like random 22 will put future ones at risk.

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          1. Farmers don't do anything for wildlife until they are paid, then they take the money and don't do it. Or take the money, then take money from hare coursers and badgerbaiters to actively make things worse.

            I'm willing to sing from the same hymnal as a farmer, but they are the ones who have to change and apologise for decades of mismanagement and maltreatment of countryside users.

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          1. Agreed, broad statements and generalisations will get us nowhere. Try Harder!

            This very negative image of farmers, for many is hurtful and breeds resentment. How can you hope to effect change without an open mind?

            I can only base my opinions on my experience. There are good and bad in every walk of life, some farmers are very nice, others bloody terrible.

            There are definitely some that love nature. I know one farmer who takes his bins out with him as he checks the cattle and every year watches with keen interest a Kestrel raise her family. He grumbles about the local gamekeeper and worries when he hasn't seen the Buzzards for a while. Occasionally spends an evening in the garden with a moth trap.

            He reads private eye and gets annoyed by DEFRA being incompetent.

            He does get annoyed about people straying away from the footpaths and let their dogs off the leads. Worries about dogs spreading worms to livestock. He has stopped putting signs up, within two days they get ripped down. Farmers do feel that they put effort in to farming with no thanks or respect. The simple act of tearing down a sign politely asking you to keep a dog on a lead shows a lack of respect.

            And if you are going to say why not let your dog run around, remember this is a blog largely aimed at bird conservation. Even dogs on leads have been shown to have a significant negative impact on breeding success.

            Most farmers hate hare coursers, though the police seem to do little.

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          2. James - you didn't answer my question did you?

            And you are so vague about what you think is wrong with whatever is wrong with this blog that it's pointless to try to discuss it with you.

            So feel free to have a generalised rant now and again but you aren't making a good case and you aren't actually engaging. Farmers eh!?

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          3. Comment was aimed at the rather negative one above and yes a bit ranty. But then so are some of the anti-farming ones.

            I have tried to answer your questions. But it is mind blowingly complex and took some thought. I am not entirely happy with my answers but have tried.

            Nothing wrong with the post per se. Never had any dealings with the NFU myself. My dad's local chieftain is an absolute rob-dog. They do manage to stir up their members to support some daft ideas on badgers, neo-nics etc. But, they had a hand in lobbying for improved livestock conditions on the continent.

            But I do fear that if the NFU does break apart there will still be an all powerful lobby for large arable agribusiness and large dairy / livestock. The small farmers will probably not have the resources to fight their corner. So DEFRA may feel compelled to support these large farms at the expense of the smaller ones. The situation could be worse than what we have now. What needs to be avoided at all costs is a race to the bottom.

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          4. James - thanks. If the NFU did break up then the small famers might find it very easy to woo all the very large wildlife and environmental NGOs to their cause. There would have to be give and take - but I reckon their could be.

            we all want to avoid a race to the bottom - so why are we in one now? And we don't have to race, we'll get there quite quickly if we amble.

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          5. Random22,you are absolutely full of hatred and lying comes easily to you.
            I have moved amongst hundreds of farmers for 65 years and have never heard one of them voice hate or dislike of any portion of human activity that was lawful.That is simply a fact.
            Farmers dislike hare coursers and badger baiters more than anyone on this earth,please stop such hatred and lies or is just part of your make-up.
            Whatever it is these lies prove you have a serious problem not the farmers.

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        3. Random22 has tarred all farmers with the same brush and written in his usual vivid style. I know several farmers who are passionately interested in wildlife and work hard to accommodate it on their farms.
          But... at the risk of numerous 'dislikes' and much opprobrium from other commenters, honesty compels me to say that I totally recognise the stereotype that he has described. I can't say how general it is or whether it's only a small minority (I simply don't know a big enough sample of farmers to be sure), but they definitely exist, and it's no good pretending that they don't.
          I'm off to look for my tin hat...

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  2. There's an Italian saying: "La gente predica bene e razzola male"... "People preach well and act badly". Here the verb razzolare is the action of chickens scratching in the dirt so it's actually rather apt to describe for the NFU.

    I think the NFU has long had a public face with which it represents "all" its farmer-members in the and another private one with which it has lobbied government, accepted lobbyists' 'fringe benefits' and perks and sought to favour its wealthier 'landed' members. Any crisis in its ranks is to be welcomed.

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  3. Don't forget that for very many years the NFU has been the NULF - National Union of Large Farmers. Most smaller farmers are not and have not been members, which is why it has long been disingenuous of the NFU to claim to represent farming as a whole and dumb (or clever?) for Governments to treat the NFU as if they did so.

    Maybe Brexit will strip away the pretence and the undue influence, but I'm not holding my breath. The free-trade-but-the-poor-should-subsidise-me because-I'm-Very-Important outlook for the NFU isn't that different from the bankers or the tax dodging party donors who politicians are still so keen to cosy up to.

    I hope I'm wrong, mind. I hope I'm wrong.

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  4. As the son of a farmer and then a conservationist I have feet in both camps. Some farmers did vote remain (I know the old man did) and they too are struggling to see sense in their colleagues that voted leave.

    Then there are some farmers who really do try to do their best (within the parameters of running an often unprofitable business) for the environment. Sadly a lot of the organisations that were helping with environmental awareness and other projects have gone bust. The HLS does seem skewed towards landowners with capital to invest and no guarantees that you will get your money back.

    We can always do more, but there has to be some practicalities acknowledged and respect on both sides. I am more on the side of conservationists here. But, what annoys farmers a lot is what they see as young upstarts and single interest groups telling them how to manage land that they have invested time and money in for several generations. Bridging the gap is challenging, some will listen, some will not.

    It is also important as this post does to make the distinction between small and large farmers and what they produce. All vastly different in their impacts and the challenges they face and so will be their willingness to change.

    I think Mark has said in a previous post that this is an opportunity for conservation groups to link with farmers. It hopefully will be. But celebrating their folly of voting Leave as this post seems to do will be seen as unfair and counterproductive. George Monbiot has run fouls of farmers for pontificating in he past, I happen to agree with a lot of what he says.. I have also followed this blog for a few months now and some of the comments are verging on the zealous and vilify farmers, taring them all with the same brush.

    At the end of the day, whether farms are big or small remember that these are people too, they work long hours in often tough conditions, in a job that is pretty thankless. The small livestock farmers are most likely to suffer and they may offer some of the best options for conservation in some areas.

    If land values do drop, expect land consolidation by agri-business. We will loose a lot of the small farmers and a return to an even larger majority of the country being part of estates (probably foreign owned), we will go back over 100yrs in land ownership.

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      1. Cheers.

        Couple more things. 1. Many farmers are grumpy (whether you believe they need / deserve them or not) that they have not need paid their last year's payments from Defra. A lot are heavily overdrawn. An economist would say they should go bust or find something else to do. But that is a bit heartless. Small farmers do feel let down by successive Govts as do a lot of sectors.

        2. If we make a trade deal with the EU then the same standard will apply as now. Also remember that it was the UK that pushed to improve pig and poultry conditions etc. We have often been quite moderating.

        If (big if) we do end up making trade deals with the US, or even revert to WTO then I expect the country to look very different. We will not be competitive in the face of cheap imports, that will probably be dominated by US products, which do not have the same standards re GMO, hormones and anti-biotics. So either our lot have to adopt their tactics, abandon a lot of good work done in the last decade or so or kaput. In an ideal world unprofitable land could be rewilded. However, just as likely that commercial forestry might take over. Landowners will still be trying to get a return.

        As parties interested in the environment and the UK countryside we will undoubtedly have to up our game considerably in the coming years.

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        1. James - so, tell us what you would like to see come out of Brexit for farmers? What is the most favourable feasible outcome? And is it the same for all farmers or not?

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          1. Mark,

            Its pretty bloody difficult really and to be fair I am not remotely qualified to say. But lets have a go!

            I have not come to terms with Brexit. But, I think I can say with certainty that what some want out of it compared to the reality of what it will do are two very different things.

            With regard to farms and the countryside, this will be played out in the medium to long term. It will impact farmers in different ways depending on several factors, i.e. what they produce, where they farm and size. Not forgetting factors such as the age of the farmer.

            We also have no idea about budget for PES and what might be possible. WTO rules prescribe the use of subsidies, any trade deal may dictate legislation and then you need to take the cost of inputs and the market into account.

            First have some assumptions of a worst case scenario.
            Brexit happens. We see costs of imported inputs rise. Profitability drops. Legislation is up for grabs by the loudest voices. We have some weak trade deals on the horizon. Farmers are out competed by cheap imports. Land value drops. Due to budget restraints subs will be cut.

            What I Want.
            I think what I would like to see, what farmers would like to see and what is likely to happen are very different things. What I would like to see is an improvement of the current situation with regards to environmental protection based on sound evidence. This should apply to all varieties of farm. The payment for ecosystem services (which is what subsidies are these days) system needs to be simplified for users and managed better by DEFRA.

            I would like to see EU directives retained, Bird, Nature, Water Framework etc.

            For me PES should be targeted by species at risk, habitat at risk and broader conservation goals with reference to the EU directives (as broadly happens now). Though also we should focus on measures to adapt to climate change, be it flood management or otherwise. It is also prudent to my mind (assuming we accept CC predictions) to prioritise conservation of areas, species, habitats that we know we can save.

            Considering the assumptions. This will cost a lot! Probably more that the public can stomach and probably impractical.

            What Farmers Want.
            Again I'll state I'm not really qualified to say.
            Really does depend on the farm, produce etc. They probably all want protecting. But protectionist trade policies will not be permitted. They want DEFRA to function properly.

            Small dairy and livestock would always like to get a fairer price for their produce. Otherwise probably happy to continue as normal and to be left alone. Probably willing to do more for the environment with support, both technical and financial. It is often impractical for small farmers to access the HLS scheme.

            Big farms mostly arable, large dairy and large livestock still probably want a better price. They do have the capital and acreage to make PES profitable, though it needs to be priced correctly to offset any lost revenue. These farms probably want more lax legislation.

            What I think might happen.
            Subsidies will be cut for some but not all farmers.

            It seems quite likely that the bad idea of mono-culture farming in fertile areas with reduced environmental protections will go ahead. Reduced subs but still profitable farms due to scale and methodology.

            The uplands (national parks) will be funded more heavily within the rules of trade deals to keep them pretty for tourism. This will be galling to farmers as they will feel they have become glorified gardeners. Produce may be unsalable compared to cheap imports.

            Farms will go bust. Lots of land up for grabs. It may get consolidated into larger and larger farms, which will give a smaller group more lobbying power. Marginal and upland farms will not be so attractive to buyers.

            There is a valid discussion to be had with regard to the general ethos of any approach for environmentalists in the Brexit scenario. How is the countryside important to you? Do you like the status quo? Are you a conservationist or more of a preservationist? Do you think land use should be changed for environmental reasons at the exclusion of other users? Do you think we should be letting ecological successions take place at the expense of some species? How much are you willing to pay?

            How much are you willing to pay for food to keep the countryside looking the way you like it?

            To my mind these are all important questions if this is an opportunity to shape the future of the countryside.

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          2. James - a lot of good stuff there - thank you.

            I will read this several times to get the most out of it (I already have), but one small comment; I am already paying too much to keep the countryside looking the way I don't like it.

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  5. In a post Brexit world, if agribusiness wants to trade with the EU, tariff or no tariff, they will have to produce to EU standards. That means that they will have to continue to comply with EU red tape but have no say.....

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  6. Fenland farmers were employing foreign fieldworkers as their mainstay workforce back in the early 60's, to my definite experience. In those days the workers lived in appalling conditions sleeping on soiled mattresses in unheated WWII prefabs & old stores. I can't believe this habit will change..........ways will be found, believe me.

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  7. Mark - couldn't agree more. I work with farmers a lot and they are a very diverse bunch. It frustrates me that large groups of them - and farming representatives - seem to feel that have to take the most extreme anti-environmental viewpoint in public, whereas quite a few individuals don't think like that. Many do see that food production isn't everything and that there is a good and honourable living to be made (in places) by producing other public benefits as well. The very negative views of farmers held by some of the commentators above are encouraged by much of the rhetoric that emerges from the farming sector. It would be great if the NFU splintered and if we (and government) heard a wider and more representative range of opinions.

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  8. I went to a Good Food Good Farming conference in Brussels a couple of years ago and the main point I took home was that there is a wide range of stakeholders in the rural scene. At one end of the spectrum you get conservationists and at the other you get industrial farmers. In between are a range of interests including organic, landscape, ecosystem services etc. The point is that we all have a common interest in a healthy environment but crucially rarely operate in concert, so you get the nature lobby talking about something and another group about something else but at no point do groups form a coalition to really get Government attention. We all need to act together.

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    1. Gwil Wren - thank you. Yes, there should be more collaboration. But it is actually government's job to decide between competing views and needs.

      Who should government believe? An economic interest group or a bunch of charities? Not sure?

      Then government ought to look at the evidence and decide what it means for society as a whole.

      We see little of that these days.

      Why would an economic interest group act for the benefit of society as a whole? It would be quite unusual - again, that's what government is for.

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  9. I'm still reading the excellent critique "Understanding the NFU an English Agribusiness Lobby Group". Robust research citing sources - wonder what if anything the Agri-Industry will counter with? Recommended reading, some useful data within its 136 pages.

    I tend to differentiate and offer that farms (traditionally smaller family units of say up to 500 acres) have wildlife value to some degree but agri-industrialised units are effectively processing factories.

    Food is a commodity, ultimately the majority of the public seek cheap calories and are not sufficiently au fait with the complexities or conflicts to be able to differentiate and are easy targets for the media spin?

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  10. I dropped in to see a really pro-environment farming friend the other day who you would fully describe as HNV farming with semi-natural habitats galore and 80% of his farm tied up in HLS delivering a big slug of his income. Chatting just after the referendum he admitted voting to leave having believed much of the Daily Mail type hype around immigration and red tape cutting, along with a large number of fellow marginal upland farming colleagues. I was pretty shocked at the time knowing how much of his business was supported by the EU. His thoughts were that farmers have always been alright and will be ok as the government will find money to support them. I wish I agreed with his optimism but it was clearly borne out of an expectation that the overdraft will keep getting topped up every year with no regard to his fixed or variable costs of his system bleeding the bank dry on a weekly basis. He's an owner occupier so likely to be less hard hit than some of his tenant neighbours but I still can't get over the naivety as he still thinks things will be ok in future. It worries me deeply that guys like this delivering public goods and supposedly more enlightened to the benefits of EU membership when it comes to farm support think like this. There are clearly a load of ostriches out there on farms across the U.K.

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    1. I think some of these puzzling 'turkey's voting for xmas' type attitudes are perhaps partially explained by the fact that Defra has been able to get away with murder over the years by placing the blame for its own incompetence at the door of the EU. Defra has consistently delivered EU policy in the most ham-fisted, over-complicated and expensive way which has often lead to resentment from those on the sharp-end of it.

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  11. Good post Mark. Farming is stuck down the agribusiness rabbit hole and cannot compete on the world stage. Their tory government may not protect them. The industry needs a small is beautiful revolution. To do that land prices must come down so new blood can start supplying fresh organic food to local markets. The only way that prices will drop is if IHT relief for agricultural land over say 100 acres is scrapped. Get rid of the tax avoiders and offer tax incentives to land owners to give new entrant start ups a chance.

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    1. Sounds good, but how do we get the consumer to pay the premium required to make that happen? I think it would require significant Govt. intervention. The majority of the UK public don't value food very much, and have little, if not zero, concept of externalised costs.

      Ps - I'd IHT would have to be set higher imo. HNV farms that provide significant public goods could be given an exemption or much higher threshold.

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    2. We all eat and we are all part of the problem. Supplying fresh organic food to local markets will only work if people buy the stuff. Shoppers are like farmers - there are a few that are very environmentally conscious and they look to buy food that has been produced with as little environmental footprint as possible, but most don't see it as a priority and simply buy the cheapest.
      Farmers don't exist in a vacuum and don't farm in a wildlife friendly or unfriendly way purely on the basis of their own personal views and attitudes - they are influenced by all sorts of things including government policy and legislation, subsidy regimes, banks, agribusiness, supermarkets and other major buyers and so on. To achieve change it is necessary to try and influence all of these things. Government policy is probably the most amenable to change and I would like to see a post Brexit subsidy regime introduced that places a major emphasis on provision of public goods such as water and soil husbandry and wildlife enhancement/protection. I believe that removing all subsidy and exposing agriculture to the harsh winds of free trade (or the kind of trade deal that we can expect Trump to agree to with the UK) will result in an expansion of industrial farming and companies such as Cargill taking over the land.

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  12. There are a few fundamentals with huge weight behind these arguments.
    British - EU - USA agriculture is on the whole uneconomic because crops grow much quicker where it is warmer - whatever we do we can't compete with countries like Brazil, even before you factor in wages and land values - which is why the temperate north subsidies its farming one way or another.

    From the time the power of the countryside was lost to the towns with the repeal of the corn laws in 1846 the rural has lost out to the urban industrial - real values for primary products have dropped and dropped. Urban business has multiplied up the value of rural products so that the food sold in supermarkets now exceeds what the producer gets by 5-10 times: we have been told convenience is best because the more manufacturing goes into food the cheaper the ingredients, the longer the shelf life and the higher the sale price. And you get to add sugars and fat that tickle then tastebuds and get us to eat more than we need or probably even want.

    'Cheap food' was a huge mistake which has left farming a victim of its own propaganda, increasingly devastated by the imbalance in a market of small sellers, huge buyers.

    Whatever the impact in the UK, the tariff barriers (subsidy is obviously a back-handed tariff barrier) against the third world are one big factor at the heart of current global inequality.

    And it can get a lot worse - the farmer who thinks it can't has clearly lost the race memory of the 1930s when global depression and the complete abandonment of farming led to abandonment or deterioration (eg scrubbing up) of previously farmed land . It is that memory that is still lurking, unknown to most today, behind some of the draconian CAP rules on 'good agricultural condition'. And for all the talk of rich farmers, even with the subsidies even arable farming is struggling pretty badly with low global grain prices.

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    1. One thing for sure,young people in almost all cases will not enter farming and even those in farming family's want a easier and better salaried life than farming.
      Second fact is,do not wish for farms to be split up to get young people into farming as they will put making a secure future for their family priority and they will not be able to afford to do things for wildlife.Paying bills,overdraft,rent or mortgage and other expenses mean they can simply not able to do things older established farmers and larger farmers could do with the right encouragement.Part of that is a better attitude from many critics,those critics should simply look at the RSPB magazine and read the Cirl Bunting article.
      The success of which is mainly about co-operation between RSPB and farmers and very little about payments to farmers.Critics should notice that those farmers enjoyed helping wildlife.
      Random 22 EAT YOUR WORDS.

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  13. Well run low ground shoots, and the work of the GWCT, will be more important than ever.
    Farmers will have to operate more intensively, they will only give up any yield for something they are interested in, and that brings a return.
    Don't bank on widespread environmental payments to make up for lost incomes, there will not be enough money to go round.
    Hundreds of millions in taxes will be lost by firms re- locating abroad.
    The general public will not expect nature conservation to be prioritised out of a reduced budget.

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    1. Trapit - the general public will not expect income support for farmers to be prioritised out of a reduced budget.

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      1. I agree, but as Jonathan Wallace says,complete removal of subsidies will only hasten the expansion of industrial farming, to attempt to compete on the world stage.
        Disastrous if there are insufficient funds for environmental schemes.
        I think some form of income support, with public benefits written in,will be forth coming after 2020 , but I don't think it will be enough to prevent this accelerating.
        The general public won't care about any of this as long as cheap food is the outcome.

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