Ian Paisley defends CAP farm subsidies

About EU carries a snippet from the proceedings in Westminster yessterday, in Ian Paisley defended the current settlement of the Common Agricultural Policy, even though the British front bench is currently questioning its value, whilst deflecting attacks on the UK’s EU rebate. He also reckons that Polish farmers don’t know their potatoes from their onions. That’ll be news to some Polish friends of mine!

  • George

    Just a case of big Ian looking after his subsidy-sucking big-house farmer pals in Antrim.

    Somebody should point out to the leader of the unionist people that, far from being the “mainstay” of the Northern Ireland economy, agriculture accounts for just 2% of the GVA in the region’s industrial sector (Source: Northern Ireland Annual Abstract of Statistics 2003).

    Half the EU cash for NI given to farmers who account for just 2%. Now that is a waste to be dealt with not something to be continued. I’m with Blair.

    I’d love to hear what the DUP plans to do for the Norhtern Ireland economy if they ever do get some power if this is the sum of Paisley’s economic knowledge.

    Marching with comely ladies on the Queen’s Highway springs to mind.

  • Lafcadio

    Quite right, George, the CAP is economically and morally indefensible, it should be a running sore on the collective conscience of European citizens and policy-makers – if Blair relinquishes the rebate without any restructuring of the CAP it will be criminal.

  • George

    Absolutely Lafcadio,
    the CAP is the biggest waste of EU money, taking up 43% of the entire budget and nobody in their right mind can defend it.

    I really hope Blair succeeds although he is up against it. Fair dues for trying either way.

    Forgetting the waste for a second, consider also the damage it is doing to places like Africa who can’t export their agricultural goods here because of it.

    Thank God for decoupling. At least that should mean less polluting of the rivers, another favourite farming pastime, while slowly but surely we are even beginning to get some tax off these guys.

    Yes I have a major problem with farmers and what they are contributing to society, north and south, considering what they are getting and have got.

    Back in 1979, for example, they contributed a total of 25 million punts to the Irish exchequer while PAYE workers paid in nearly 3 billion.

    It’s payback time. I was absolutely delighted when they all came to Dublin to demonstrate about some perceived slight a year or two ago and weren’t allowed into the city centre as it would cost tax-paying businesses.

    They had to walk and while they were away the cops issued tickets to most of them as they hadn’t even taxed their tractors. They haven’t been back.

  • Ringo

    They had to walk and while they were away the cops issued tickets to most of them as they hadn’t even taxed their tractors. They haven’t been back

    You’recalling it through urban-smog tinted memory, George.

    In fact the tractorcade was a first – a marvellous PR success for the farmers, who usually display as much tact as the No Shakey-handy Man up north.

    It had novelty – Dub’s getting to marvel at the finest new John Deere or feel nostalgic for school holidays at the sight of a Massey Fergusson 124. Contrary to every instinct they took the good PR route of not bringing the tractors into the city centre so they could claim to be considerate citzens concerned for the welfare of local business – even though it was part of a deal done with the Guards. The Guards facilitated traffic management on the trip to Dublin from the likes of Skibb, and only a token number of tractors (all taxed!) entered the city centre.

    Contrasted with the hamfisted way the teachers have failed to garner any public sympathy for their valid and long overdue pay increases it was a lesson in how to get the public on board, or at the very least not piss them off – which they have to learn has nothing to do with whether your claims have any merit or not.

  • George

    We have a different memory of that demonstration Ringo. I don’t remember any sympathy among my peers.

    I was particularly struck with the Late Late Show coverage when a rich farmer was telling in heartbreaking terms how his neighbour was broke and having trouble raising his children.

    A working class Limerick man simply told him to give back the money he had stolen from his neighbour rather than looking for more cash from the rest of the population.

    I accept maybe my memory of the Garda behaviour could be tinted.

  • Lafcadio

    I much prefer George’s version, I’ve been sniggering to myself all afternoon..

  • euinni

    To continue on the “Polish threat”, the Polish Tourist Information Website made a good spoof poster for the French in reference to the Polish Plumbers threat which was fulled during the campaign in the run up to the referendum.

  • MARTIN

    I seem to recall at the tractorcade time–most people marveled at the amount of 100,000 euro + tractors owened by the starving farmers.

    Off the topic slightly–heard the other night on the Gerry Hannon show–FF councillor was being eaten by locals .

    The gist of the thing was this–Mc Dowell has been bitching about the amount of Justice Department spending on prison-officors overtime.the locall ff er was trying to defend the mad Mullahs position.

    Came out that 64 million per annum is spent on prison officers overtime-a large amount BUT

    MC DOWELL refuses to hire more prison wardens
    and has no problem whatsoever in paying out 1.8 BILLION per year to legal aid solicitors and barristers at 2,ooo per hour through legal aid from Justice Department—mainly involving Tribunals which were set up mainly as a result of the FF/PD corruption and incompetence.

    The prison officers are necessary-someone has to guard the countries violent criminals.

    the amount of money given to prison service would not run the rest of the Justice departments activities for more than 12 days per year.

    Maybe Mc Dowell has a soft spot for the legal profession,maybe he figures that if his constituents see sense at the next general election he may have to take up employment and do what he is actually qualified to do–law students see this as an inspiration if this bleathering, incompetent clown can qualify as a barrister-should be no problem to you–maybe he wants to earn some of this big fee tribunal money.

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    George,
    “agriculture accounts for just 2%”
    Dont suppose you know the figures of people employed in the agricultural sector?

    “Now that is a waste to be dealt with”
    What do you propose? An end in subsidies resulting in major problems for the already suffering NI farmers, what about the thousands that would their lose jobs etc? What about the NI landscape?

    “consider also the damage it is doing to places like Africa who can’t export their agricultural goods here”
    Look at the damage it would do to the NI farmers if they were allowed. Anyway you get what you pay for here, at least when you buy a roast you know what sort of cattle its coming from whereas if you buy African meat you don’t have a clue what sort of conditions its coming from.

    “another favourite farming pastime”
    Since you seem to have a hatred of NI farmers what do you propose happens to the land? I am wrong to assume you do not live in the countryside?

  • Comrade Stalin

    “What do you propose? An end in subsidies resulting in major problems for the already suffering NI farmers, what about the thousands that would their lose jobs etc”

    This happened to MG Rover recently, and has happened to scores of British companies for several decades. Sink or swim, Thatcher said. Why should the farmers be entitled to special treatment ?

    Should inefficient enterprises which can’t operate profitably by themselves be given a cash injection, or not ? We need to be clear about this.

  • Comrade Stalin

    George, for once I completely agree with you. The CAP is a grotesque distortion of the market and needs to be drastically scaled back.

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    Because there are a lot more farmers here, agriculture is the main employment area in Fermanagh. Whole rural communities revolve around agriculture. A factory which employs 1000 people will take up 10 acres while 1000 farmers will take up hundreds of thousands of acres.

    “Why should the farmers be entitled to special treatment?”
    Because without them we would be totally reliant on foreign food imports which to me are not something to be proud off.

    Agriculture has a much bigger affect on NI life than small factories.

    Who should look after the land then after farmers have all gone?

    Farming here is not as easy as you make it out to be, thats why in 30 years time there is going to be a major problem for the new generation that should be taking over are all moving to other employment areas.

    Would you rather eat a British cow which you can see many of out in fields living healthy life’s or an African cow for which all you know may have been brought up in a factory farm?

    * And for once I agree with what Ian Paisley has got to say.

  • Comrade Stalin

    “Because without them we would be totally reliant on foreign food imports which to me are not something to be proud off.”

    We rely on foreign imports of houseware, carpets, machinery, cars, software and advanced electronic equipment. What’s so embarassing about importing food ? We already import a huge quantity of it anyway.

    “Would you rather eat a British cow which you can see many of out in fields living healthy life’s or an African cow for which all you know may have been brought up in a factory farm?”

    The history of British beef hasn’t been particularly great lately.

  • Lafcadio

    FYU – where to start… I’m knackered and have to get some kip, but let me take you up on one (relatively insubstantial) point – the NI landscape could be improved immeasurably by ridding it of farmers, unless de-forestation, polluted rivers, shoddy-looking barns made out of breeze-blocks and rusty corrugated iron, and otherwise pleasant country roads covered in years-worth of crusted cow cack are your thing..

  • Lafcadio

    PS Comrade Stalin – you surprise me, speaking fluent capitalist like that!!

    You are quite right, of course..

  • Comrade Stalin

    As well as being a mass murderer and dictator of the greatest socialist state the world has ever known, I’m also a software engineer.

    I like my job but I am reminded literally every day that it is a constant, unrelenting battle to maintain it against the threat of cheap offshore skills, particularly in India but also China and other smaller eastern states. The only way the industry can stay better is to be better value. It’s hard to say who will win the battle in the longer term. But I have to concede that software engineering dies out in the West, it is because engineers in the East have been able to provide better value than we have.

    That’s why it annoys me when people come out saying “we’re too crap to compete with the cheaper suppliers, give us a pile of money to stay afloat”. I don’t see why some people should get massive grants and not others, especially at a time when education cutbacks are rife and the government claims they can’t afford to educate anyone properly for free anymore.

    FYu said that beef produced abroad might be poor quality, as though we don’t have health and safety people inspecting the beef and the way it is produced when it is imported, and as if our farmers have some sort of decent record on beef to begin with. People talk about rip-off Britain, and this is it – taxing people more so that the farmers can charge double the price for their produce. It sounds a hell of a lot like lose-lose for everyone except those in the agricultural sector.

    I certainly don’t object to subsidies or grants which encourage more efficient production. But that is the opposite of what the CAP is about.

  • Lafcadio

    Agreed.. quite apart from having the beef checked by quality control people, it’s distinctly patronising to us all as consumers to say that we need to have decent quality beef (and veg, and fruit, and milk etc etc) pointed out to us – if imported beef is very poor, we won’t buy it

  • yerman

    “taxing people more so that the farmers can charge double the price for their produce.”

    You seem to be under some illusion that farmers can decide what is charged for their produce – they dont. The price a farmer gets when he sells is dozens of times lower than what ends up on the shelf. Those profits are taken by the processors, and in particular by the supermarkets.

    The point which Ian Paisley made, albet fairly briefly from a much longer speech, was that farmers were told only a few months ago that the issue had been sorted out. The mid-term review of the CAP was to be the basis upon which farmers moved forward away from the old system of producing more and more food just to get subsidies for them. The system now has been changed and whether you like it or not you just cannot turn round and renegotiate that a few months later because some people are a bit pissed off that the European Constitution has gone down the pan and they want to vent their anger.

    Farmers are not now paid on a basis of production which lead to market distortions and the dumping of huge quantities of commodity products onto the world market as they produced for subsidies.

    Farmers are now paid on a flat rate which is linked to animal welfare issues and environmental protection. The countryside would be a vastly different place if it were not for farmers and it has been deemed worthy to pay those people to look after the countryside – and when they do pollute it they can be prosecuted, unlike the second biggest polluter (not far behind agriculture) which is the Water Service!

    The issues about food safety are very well made. Apart from the usual retort about British beef, food produced in this part of the world has to pass hugely higher safety standards than poultry which is produced in Taiwan and shipped across or beef produced in Brazil which is pumped full of antibioitics and growth promotors banned in the UK.

    The trouble with people is that they want it all. If you want rock-bottom prices for food then that’s fine – go for it, but please dont even think about kicking up a fuss the first time there is a food scare because of dodgy food coming in from the Asian sub-continent which has become contaminated with some nasty pollutant or other and there are no traceability schemes to tell you how much of that pollutant has been in the food or how long it has been in the food chain for.

    If you want those kind of measures then you’re going to have to pay for them!

    “if imported beef is very poor, we won’t buy it”

    How do you define ‘poor’ exactly? It may well taste lovely, but with those hormones and anti-biotics surging through your body it might well turn out to be very poor a few years down the line! Just because it looks tasty on the plate doesnt mean its all its cracked up to be.

  • Lafcadio

    yerman – I think you misunderstand what the current debate is, the people wanting to reform the CAP are the British, not because they’re pissed off about the constitution, rather because they’re coming under enormous pressure to relinquish the budgetary rebate that Maggie negotiated, and Tony is taking the principled stance (I don’t believe I’ve ever uttered those words in my life before!) of making this conditional on reform to the CAP, on the (accurate) grounds that it is a market-distorting, unfair, wasteful and grotesquely expensive obscenity, although he probably doesn’t phrase it so candidly.

    As for “animal welfare” and “environmental protection” – can you put your hand on your heart and tell me that NI farmers are good for the NI countryside and environment? When I’m at home sometimes I drive around countryside in despair, as a combination of appalling planning and sheer insouciance on the part of farmers has lead to the descent of some rural areas into miserable, featureless nothingness, littered with filthy farmyards, ugly outbuildings, dirty roads.

    As for food safety, given the obscene amounts spent on subsidies to farmers, the EU could afford to hire entire teams of monitors to globe-trot and test foods… markets will respond, if there is no demand for these “dodgy” foreign foods, they will either have to become less “dodgy”, or people will choose to pay more for British beef. However I would advise against “buying British” instinctively as a guarantor of quality, given the recent history of the industry.. All of these objections smack of the same kind of protectionist scare-mongering that are trotted out by any coddled lobby who suddenly feel under threat – e.g. in another generation, the MG Rover collapse would probably have been surrounded by people talking about “dodgy foreign cars” that don’t have to undergo the same safety tests etc etc..

  • willowfield

    Of course, George, Southern Irish farmers don’t benefit from CAP!

  • willowfield

    I oppose CAP, but it has to be said that importing food is not something that should be encouraged due to the environmental damage done by the process of transportation.

  • George

    Fermanagh Young Unionist and Willowfield,
    “Since you seem to have a hatred of NI farmers what do you propose happens to the land? I am wrong to assume you do not live in the countryside? “

    Why do you take my criticism as being Northern Ireland specific. I was criticising Paisley for his obvious ignorance of economic matters (Gregory Campbell is as bad) and for his defense of the indefensible – CAP.

    I’m right behind Blair for trying to reform CAP and think Ahern is as lilly-livered as Paisley by not facing down the farmers.

    Yes, my resentment (hatred would be too strong) of CAP extends well beyond the border, all the way from the pig farms of Longford to the lush fields of the Dordogne.

    On people working in agriculture:
    The DETI, estimate the numbers of self-employed persons and employees in agriculture at 35,000 in 2000. Still no mainstay, considering you have 259,000 working in the public sector.

    “what do you propose happens to the land?”

    It’s not farming the land I have a problem with, it’s paying billions to keep more people on it than are needed. I have huge sympathy for the small farmers, who suffer, but the support for them should come from the big farmers who syphoned off all the grants. The small farmers have yet to realise who their enemies are. The tractorcades should be going to the front gates of the big farmers.

    If there is no market for farming the land, leave it go back to the way it was, let it become woodland or whatever, employing former farmers in a custodial nature warden role.

    It’s better than paying them with a combination of EU money and social welfare benefit.

  • Ringo

    I oppose CAP, but it has to be said that importing food is not something that should be encouraged due to the environmental damage done by the process of transportation.

    indeed, and add the damage done to the food in making it capable of enduring the process of transportation. Phase out the CAP over the next 5 or 10 years, subsidise foodstuffs that are free from all manner of preservatives and additives regardless of where it is from – this would have an inbuilt natural bias towards local produce while encouraging a healthier and tastier food consumption. And grow your own.

  • Cahal

    Perhaps somebody can elaborate but I remember in years gone by the New Zealand government phased out agricultural subsidies there, much to the distain of their highly dependent farmers. Several years on, after some tough times, they are able to stand on their own feet and are quite competitive.

    Does anybody know anything about that?

  • DCB

    After the First World War the French wanted reparations, they got them but then after the Second World War they relised that upsetting Germany so much after the first war had brought about Hitler.

    So they dreamed up the CAP. Got to hand it to them, it was clever.

    It is however far more outdated than Maggie’s rebate.

    It’s horribly market distorting and abolishing it would do more for Africa than 1m Saint Geldofs and all the coffers of the world bank put together.

    The benefits of trade being far more likely to go to third world farmers than to their claptocratic governments. Not only that but it would also benefit us in lower food prices.

    Africa has a comparative advantage over Europe in land and farming, truly free trade is fair in that it allows everyone to exploit their strengths. By subsidising EU farmers we are handicapping Africa.

  • DCB

    And Bob Geldof would be better of ranting about CAP than ebay

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    Comrade Stalin,
    “What’s so embarassing about importing food”
    Nothing, importing every single of food we eat would just be plain wrong. Why waste all the farmland in NI?

    “The history of British beef hasn’t been particularly great lately”
    Yea, but thats been sorted out now, the quality is just as good as anywhere else and I repeat myself – when you eat beef here now at least you know what you are eating.

    We eat our own beef, chickens and eggs, we buy other meats from local farms, we buy local potatoes and carrots etc, we use to drink our own milk. And we will hopefully always continue to.

    “can charge double the price for their produce”
    Don’t be so naive.

    Lafcadio,
    “the NI landscape could be improved immeasurably by ridding it of farmers”
    Eh? You would rather have overgrown scrubland/forest all around you?

    “immeasurably by ridding it of farmers, unless de-forestation, polluted rivers…”
    Have you heard of a little thing called ESA? Many many farmers are now adapting this resulting in the land being in a better state now than is has been for a long time.

    “otherwise pleasant country roads”
    And if you got your way then those nice little roads would no longer exist for most of the road users would be farmers.

    It is because of people who share your same ideas that farmers are going to suffer a lot more this year than necessary, since there has been a ban on slurry spreading for a lot of the year then farmer have to build extra tanks at a huge cost, there have few polluted rivers throughout the last few years, you only see the small picture – behind the minority of polluting farmers there are many who go to great extremes to prevent pollution.

    “can you put your hand on your heart and tell me that NI farmers are good for the NI countryside and environment?”
    Yes.

    “drive around countryside in despair”
    Aww poor you, if you got your way then you would be driving through a wasteland.

    “descent of some rural areas into miserable, featureless nothingness”
    Aw give me the strength, where did you see that? When I go into a large town or city all I think – what do city dwellers do all day?

    “people will choose to pay more for British beef”
    They had no problem up to about 10 years ago.

    George,
    “estimate the numbers of self-employed persons and employees in agriculture at 35,000”
    You can nearly double that for wives and elderly etc. A lot of them would become reliant on government hand outs in they were no longer able to cope in agriculture, moral in rural communities would be at an all time low

    “I have huge sympathy for the small farmers”
    Obviously not for if subsidies were stopped then the small farms would suffer the most.

  • DCB

    If they can’t survive without subsidies then they don’t deserve to survive.

    Cruel in the short term but to everyone’s benefit in the long term – we all suffer from inefficent markets

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    “then they don’t deserve to survive”
    Then what will they do? Any farmer over 50 would have practically have no chance of finding another full time job, and also I think people are forgetting about the effect farming has on tourism, if all the farmers gave up then the land would turn to scrub, many mountains would become unwalkable, many lakes would become inaccessible, the list goes on…

  • Lafcadio

    FYU – I’m going to start at the end, and reply to your point to George, if I may, about large vs small farmers. Actually first let’s just mention the amount of money first, from memory direct subsidies to farmers in the EU under CAP come to €40bn a year.. and in an interesting twist to the 80-20 rule, around 80% of that is reckoned to go to the largest 20% of European farmers.

    So, contrary to the romantic ideal of all of this money making its way back to artisan farmers, painstakingly making rustic cheeses in quaint French villages, or lovingly raising wholesome cattle in a verdant Irish pasture, most of it goes to the bank accounts of large agribuisnessmen, who go on to build almost industrial-size concrete complexes, and coat large swathes of Europe in huge fields of rapeseed and sugar beet.

    The French are disproportionate beneficiaries, (tune of €10bn a year I think) and Ireland are too – this is one of fairly few areas of European policy where their stance is markedly different to the UK. NI, with a more rural population than the rest of the UK find themselves more aligned with Irish farmers – enough crumbs fall from the table to keep them in Range Rovers and expensive tractors..

    And I haven’t even mentioned the pernicious effects of CAP on the developing world (which are multifarious) and on European consumers..

    Now to all you say about the countryside – a lot of NI’s countryside is a mess, from your responses above I’m not sure you have appreciated what I’m trying to say. If you don’t believe me, try travelling outside NI for a bit; in France, Italy, even England you’ll notice more trees, well-kept villages which complement their surroundings, clean roads; in lots of NI the “countryside” is littered with unkempt farm buildings, abandoned tractors, square ’60s bungalows on the brows of hills, spoiling skylines etc etc

    This is not all the fault of farmers (although a lot is); contributory factors are appalling planning laws for most of the last century, a general lack of pride in, or respect for, the countryside among the people who live there; what CAP has done is embed a system where for a long time there was no incentive for any farmer except to churn out as much as possible, even if that meant cutting down trees, and over-working soil, etc etc with almost no sanction for pollution or other externality. You talk about the changes that took place a couple of years back – too late, the damage has been done.

  • Lafcadio

    FYU – to go back to something Comrade Stalin said a while back, farmers aren’t the only people in the world threatened with losing their jobs, and an uncertain future. Why should they be different to anyone else, and get bailed out by the state (which means by you and I) if they’re not efficient enough?

    I work for a bank, so my competitive situation is different to CS’s, but at any time, I’m just a recession, or an arbitrary re-structuring by a new manager, or a big bad debt away from losing my job, then what about me?

    And you keep talking as if the countryside would fall into some kind of chronic state of disrepair without farmers – well for the reasons I outline in earlier posts, I would contest that they were good for the countryside in the first place, but if farms go, like George says, areas of undistinguished mud and grass could be re-forested and properly maintained – I for one would rather see my taxes going towards that than into some whining farmers pocket.

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    Lafcadio,
    When I made the comment that small farmers would suffer I was talking about them as actually people, not like numbers on a sheet like you like to make them out to be. My point was if a farmer has 10 cows and farms without subsidies then they will make next to no real profit while a farmer with 200 cows without subsides will still not make that much. The end to subsidies would have a much more personal affect on the already depressed small farmers.

    “build almost industrial-size concrete complexes”
    If you are referring to factory farms then they are there on demand. They number very few in total compared to traditional farms.

    “enough crumbs fall from the table to keep them in Range Rovers and expensive tractors”
    That claim is a little exaggerated, if they own a range rover (few do) then they probably have a good reason to. Well unless you want farmers to go out into the fields with buckets and pitchforks then there is little choice apart from these tractors.

    “a lot of NI’s countryside is a mess”
    Define a mess. Just looking out the window here now there is a mountain covered in forest in front of us with many “square ’60s bungalows” all along the bottom of it, we do not see these as an eye sore, it may surprise you but farmers try to preserve these and also tourists are for some reason attracted to these. Although they are not really 1960’s I would say many would date around the early 1900’s.

    “appalling planning laws”
    So people should not be allowed to live on their own land? We are no longer allowed to build much here due to the STRICT planning.

    “a general lack of pride in, or respect for, the countryside ”
    Get out of the city and actually ask the farmer what they think.

    “even if that meant cutting down trees”
    And thats why there is more and more forestry being planted now these days.

    “with almost no sanction for pollution or other externality”
    Once again I say ESA. Here farmers are paid to try to keep their land as natural as possible, trees being planted, wild animals allowed to roam etc.

    “too late, the damage has been done.”
    What damage exactly? You are referring to NI countryside as if its polluted and just plain ugly, should you not be more concerned the amount of pollution being produced in cities?

    “Why should they be different to anyone else”
    Because there produce is more important and they have a much more immediate impact on NI.

    “areas of undistinguished mud and grass could be re-forested and properly maintained”
    And who would do that? You would seem to think a perfect NI would have everyone living in towns and cities.

    “see my taxes going towards that than into some whining farmers pocket”
    Well thats just typical isn’t it? It people like you that are to blame for the state of farming at the minute, you dont seem to understand that if you would quit buying the cheap processed stuff from supermarkets then there would be no “whining farmers”.

    Anyway since you work in a bank then you have no idea what it feels like to be a farmer and manage like they do.

    Could someone remind me – what is the average income for the NI farmer?

  • Lafcadio

    FYU – sorry to disappoint you, but I lived in Northern Ireland for my first 21 years, and of that time, I lived in the country for all but about 5 or 6 years, in Counties Down and Antrim. I know quite a bit about how NI farmers feel, as on my mother’s side, my family have been farming in NI for hundreds of years, and I still have uncles and cousins, who I love very much, who farm.

    My last girlfriend was from Fermanagh, and her dad was a farmer – nice bloke, but I was always hearing second-hand from her about how tough farming was, and how they were almost destitute; and then with no irony, she would launch into telling me how she reckoned she could sweet-talk him into buying her a brand new Mini for her birthday (and sure enough he did!)

    I love NI, and never feel fully at home anywhere else – but I think by this stage I am lucid enough to see it’s shortcomings, and have travelled enough to be able to make comparisons with other places. And it’s a fact, that while there are some areas of natural beauty in NI which remain, there are some areas where countryside proper just doesn’t exist any more, rather a series of aesthetically unappealing bungalows a stones throw apart, some straggling farm buildings, and a lot of mud.

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    Unless you lived beside an arrogant, good-for-nothing son of a then I dont know where you base those claims of yours.

    “I know quite a bit about how NI farmers feel”
    Then why do you make stupid claims that they dont care about the land?

    “as on my mother’s side, my family have been…”
    Then why do you want to see them suffer?

    “and a lot of mud”
    What will you be complaining about next! Maybe the sky is too blue or the trees are too green?

  • Lafcadio

    FYU – I have a sinking feeling, like this thread could fall into a “Tony Fearon black hole” (see the recent 500 post NI thread)

    I never said all farmers don’t care about the land, nor do I believe that; I do however believe that the culture of subsidy which we have lived with for the last couple of decades have not incentivised farmers to a) work efficiently or b) care about whether the countryside is beautiful; and that we are paying the price for that now.

    And I don’t want to see my family, or any farmer suffer; frankly that’s what they are doing now, struggling to be efficient in circumstances and in an industry where they cannot be, knowing all the time that there is no long-term future in farming, or at least in farming as it stands at the minute.

    In the absence of clear market signals, it’s difficult to make enterprising decisions – my uncles are intelligent and hard-working men, but the subsidy culture has made them more inclined to be fatalistic and dependent, rather than anything approaching entrepreneurial (although I’m glad to say that is changing)

    And let’s be clear about this, European farm subsidy is right now higher than it will ever be again; if it doesn’t change now, it is merely being deferred, not stopped, the days of ever-increasing handouts are numbered.

  • Comrade Stalin

    A lot of heat and not much light on this thread I’m afraid. The rather poor arguments appear to be:

    (1) Foreign food is of poor quality (as though import controls and inspections cannot combat this)

    (2) Farmers are entitled to a job for life (which people working in other sectors seemingly are not) and therefore should be subsidised

    (3) Farming land should not be wasted, which seems to be the most silly of all the arguments given that part of the CAP subsidies are explicitly aimed and taking land *out* of production, and as though it’s OK to waste land in other countries.

    I don’t understand why people are coming out with this “what will the farmers do?” argument. Right across the board in NI industries are dying out, in the clothing industry in particular.

    There are a lot of things that I’d be in favour of, such as grants to allow farmers to set themselves up with more efficient facilities, or grants to preserve old traditions such as cheesemaking mentioned above. But this business of massive blanket intervention in the market to keep prices up is doing very few people any good.

  • Visioner

    Hypocritical of Paisley since he is supposed to be against the EU.