A couple of subjects have come up during the week. Both have implications for British agriculture of all shapes and sizes. One is immigration and the other is State subsidies.
There are some tales being told by the Westminster Government and its supporters that should be making their noses grow in the way of Pinocchio. Problem is that these tales tap into the basic prejudices held by a high percentage of the readers of the right-wing Press in England. This is British politics, so I should not be surprised that a faction of the Conservative Party is driving stories to advance its own Brexit fantasies.
Let’s take immigration first. Evidence is out there to show that free movement of people in Europe does not take jobs from British workers. It’s true, Mrs May in her Home Office days, endeavoured to supress that evidence but it’s there nevertheless. With the latest announcements from the Conservative Government there is the expectation that British workers will be queuing up to take the jobs vacated by mainland Europeans as they are all sent home in a couple of years’ time.
The only que I can see forming is a line of salesmen promoting the latest systems of automation to all and sundry in farming and horticulture. It’s not long ago that the idea of robots milking cows seemed the stuff of science fiction but not any longer. Relentlessly agriculture is shedding labour and adopting such wonders as self-driving tractors and domes to monitor crops.
Telling low-skilled British workers that there will be fields of jobs post-Brexit is a horrible deception. I hope people do not fall for it.
The other subject that caught my eye was that of the future of agricultural subsidies. Whatever assurances Minister may utter to the countryside they cannot run away from the cost of Brexit. The Treasury’s store of our tax money is going to be needed for health, education and more bureaucrats above the call to spread it on the land.
The removal of subsidies is a political choice and in some cases warranted. Providing support to highly profitable large-scale farming, like the so-called “grain barons” isn’t sustainable. However, to invite wide-spread industrialisation and the final destruction of the family farm is inevitable. It’s likely to empty the hillsides, coastal margins and highlands, import more basic foodstuff and turn the countryside a semi-urban theme park.
Again, Ministers are practicing a horrible post-Brexit deception.