Friday, February 21, 2020

Post Brexit Farm Policy

One of the many reasons liberals and progressives should be more suspicious of the EU is its farm policy, which spends $65 billion a year promoting over-production, heavy pesticide use, draining wetlands, plowing up meadows, and general environmental mayhem.

Post Brexit, the British have an opportunity to rethink their own farm policy, and the Boris Johnson government has come up with a very interesting approach:
At the bill’s core is a shift away from direct payments to farmers based upon the amount of agricultural land they manage. This was a feature of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) that was heavily criticised as it pushed up land prices, creating an entry barrier for younger farmers, and benefited large landowners disproportionately. It also meant the farming of unproductive land that otherwise might have been turned into wildlife habitat.

Instead, landowners will in future be paid to produce “public goods”. These are things that can benefit everyone but bring no financial reward to those who produce them, like clean air and water.

Over the next seven years, farmers will move from the CAP regulations to a new system of environmental land management contracts. These will detail the terms and conditions under which farmers and land managers will receive funding. Subsidies are expected to be paid out from taxpayer funds at the same rate as the EU – about £3bn a year – to enable landowners to deliver the public goods set out in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and the Clean Growth Strategy. . . .

One of the big priorities of the bill is soil. Erosion rates from ploughed fields are between 10 and 100 times greater than rates of soil formation. As a result, the UK faces a crisis of food security within our lifetimes. The government will reward farmers who protect and improve soil quality with measures such as crop rotation, and give ministers new powers to regulate fertiliser use and organic farming.
Beats me if this will work. I'm no expert on British farming, and with these things small details can end up having huge consequences down the line. But it sounds worth trying, and honestly it would be hard to come up with something worse than the CAP.


JustPeachy said...

It looks like a good start! Maybe we can get some of that going here in the US before we flush all our topsoil down the Mississippi...

David said...

I too think it sounds great. If it helps preseve small farms, irregular fields, hedgerows, and all that good Little England stuff, I'll be thrilled. If Johnson continues to go in that direction instead of toward turning Britain into a brash capitalist utopia, which he's also talked about, I'll be even more delighted. And if he can do all that while condemning xenophobia and race-baiting, then I might die from joy.

G. Verloren said...

And if he can do all that while condemning xenophobia and race-baiting, then I might die from joy.

This is Boris Johnson you're talking about.

The man who had a song written about how racist he is. The man who called gays "bumboys" and compared Muslim women to "letterboxes". The man whose own aides have resigned in disgust over his rampant racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia. The man whose public comments caused spikes in hate crimes, and who has denied any responsibility and refused to apologize.

The man is about two goosesteps away from being a Fascist, and about a half dozen chromosomes away from being a Vogon. There are few more vile men in Britain.

If he did what you suggest, I might die from shock. It would be like Hitler deciding to call off the Holocaust and send every Jew a fruit basket instead.