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Time for government intervention

Frank the tankFrank the tank Posts: 6,806
edited August 2012 in The bottom bracket
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The way the supermarkets squeeze farmers for every penny whilst making obscene amounts of profit. I'm not against Tesco et al making profits just that farmers should get a fair price even if it's at the expence of a smaller profit margin.

I've seen a couple of tv programmes this week and one was about the plight of dairy farmers who make a loss on every litre of milk they make. As I mentioned on another thread the "mark up" on asperagus. Also farmers being paid less than a penny a lettuce whilst they're then sold for 50p-80p each.

Now, having a non-existant manufacturing base is one thing, but having no farming industry is another. Time the government stepped in in some way (not sure how) to make sure the farmers are protected. Or are they going to stand idly by (let the free market decide) until it's too late.
Tail end Charlie

The above post may contain traces of sarcasm or/and bullsh*t.
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  • nolfnolf Posts: 2,016
    Maybe they should be better at what they do.

    Let me put it this way, its cheaper to import milk on a ship from another country (so loads of travel costs, refrigeration costs, import taxes + hassle, plus the normal costs), than it is to take it from a farm nearby and put it in the shops.

    I think that speaks volumes for how rubbish UK farmers are. They get huge enough subsidies under the CAP as it is.
    "I hold it true, what'er befall;
    I feel it, when I sorrow most;
    'Tis better to have loved and lost;
    Than never to have loved at all."

    Alfred Tennyson
  • nolf wrote:
    Maybe they should be better at what they do.

    Let me put it this way, its cheaper to import milk on a ship from another country (so loads of travel costs, refrigeration costs, import taxes + hassle, plus the normal costs), than it is to take it from a farm nearby and put it in the shops.

    I think that speaks volumes for how rubbish UK farmers are. They get huge enough subsidies under the CAP as it is.

    yeah and maybe we should have not supported our "world class" banking industry either?
  • I doubt it is a simple as UK farmers being "rubbish". You might as well say we are rubbish at car building, printing books or making shoes etc etc.

    Perhaps the foreign farmers have lower costs because the price of the land they farm on is cheaper and they can subsist on even less money than the supermarkets pay UK farmers. They may even have the advantage of slave labour picking the green beans, bananas or whatever it is that gets flown into the UK, thus making their running costs even lower.

    Part of the problem is also that people here have come to expect cheap food and all year round availability. And then there are big pension fund shareholders who have the power to virtually demand the supermarkets generate perpetually growing profits year after year.
  • nwallacenwallace Posts: 1,465
    Now, having a non-existant manufacturing base is one thing, but having no farming industry is another. Time the government stepped in in some way (not sure how) to make sure the farmers are protected. Or are they going to stand idly by (let the free market decide) until it's too late.

    Ever spoken to a farmer about government intervention in farming?

    I say speak, but it would actually be a rant from said farmer, the government are guilt of seriously censored up the farming industry.
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  • finchyfinchy Posts: 6,889
    nolf wrote:
    Maybe they should be better at what they do.

    Let me put it this way, its cheaper to import milk on a ship from another country (so loads of travel costs, refrigeration costs, import taxes + hassle, plus the normal costs), than it is to take it from a farm nearby and put it in the shops.

    I think that speaks volumes for how rubbish UK farmers are. They get huge enough subsidies under the CAP as it is.

    British farmers aren't as well subsidised as some of their foreign counterparts. France gets 22% of CAP money, Spain 15% and Italy 12%, compared to the UK which gets 9%.
  • rakerake Posts: 3,281
    very often how good you are has nothing to do with the monetary cost of things. land prices, exchange rates, slave labour, green land available with ever increasing population, acceptable working standards, imbalance in cost of living all come into play. some of these farmers are several generations old to simple suggest theyre censored is very disrespectfull at best nolf. once its gone it aint coming back with all of these industries. what do you suppose might happen then when they know we are totally reliant on imports, do you think the price could go above what it is now?
  • Eau RougeEau Rouge Posts: 1,118
    johnfinch wrote:
    British farmers aren't as well subsidised as some of their foreign counterparts. France gets 22% of CAP money, Spain 15% and Italy 12%, compared to the UK which gets 9%.

    British farmers are just as well subsidised as every other farmer in Europe, the difference is that in Britain the old country gentry Estate farms are a good deal more common, whereas in France especially smaller farms are more common than they are in the UK. 10 smaller farms will take more in CAP money than a single farm covering the same area. That and the fact the French and Italians are much better at creaming the system.

    Rather than point the finger at CAP or the Government or the supermarkets though, I'd be inclined to look no further than those very same Estate farms. They are more a ruthless business than any supermarket and only too happy to undercut anyone and supply the supermarkets at the sort of prices "ordinary" farmers can't afford.
  • rakerake Posts: 3,281
    Eau Rouge wrote:
    johnfinch wrote:
    British farmers aren't as well subsidised as some of their foreign counterparts. France gets 22% of CAP money, Spain 15% and Italy 12%, compared to the UK which gets 9%.

    British farmers are just as well subsidised as every other farmer in Europe, the difference is that in Britain the old country gentry Estate farms are a good deal more common, whereas in France especially smaller farms are more common than they are in the UK. 10 smaller farms will take more in CAP money than a single farm covering the same area. That and the fact the French and Italians are much better at creaming the system.

    Rather than point the finger at CAP or the Government or the supermarkets though, I'd be inclined to look no further than those very same Estate farms. They are more a ruthless business than any supermarket and only too happy to undercut anyone and supply the supermarkets at the sort of prices "ordinary" farmers can't afford.
    watching countryfile suggested the only way to survive in the business was to increase profit margins by farming on a big scale just to survive. . its not big farms undercutting, its small farms being forced out by supermarket monopolies. the price they get per litre has remained the same for the last 15 years, while inflation has charged on, so has the feed cost for the cattle well above inflation.
  • Eau RougeEau Rouge Posts: 1,118
    rake wrote:
    watching countryfile suggested the only way to survive in the business was to increase profit margins by farming on a big scale just to survive. . its not big farms undercutting, its small farms being forced out by supermarket monopolies. the price they get per litre has remained the same for the last 15 years, while inflation has charged on, so has the feed cost for the cattle well above inflation.

    It's a matter of scale. My Grandfather's small farm was too small for my Uncle to make a living from, but the profitable farm it's merged into is still nowhere near the immense scale of the agri-business that owns the land that surrounds the place I work in, an old English country manor's estate. So yes, you can't be too small, but that doesn't mean you need to own half of Hampshire to make a decent living either.
    The small farms work in the rest of Europe, sure it's not exactly a license to print money, but they make a living, just. Taking the Irish example, smaller farms producing much the same stuff as English farms, the biggest difference is that Irish farms, to a very large degree, supply a co-operative of some sort, not a supermarket. The supermarket can't play the farmers off each other, they have to deal with the co-op suppliers. In England, the Estates have no interest in being in a co-op with farms many times smaller than them, and so everyone has to go it alone. Sure, you get co-ops in Britain, but nothing on the same sort of degree as in Ireland.
    Don't get any rosy-glasses pictures of these co-ops, they have their own problems, but it's still better than having to own 5,000 acres to be a farmer.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 50,112 Lives Here
    johnfinch wrote:
    nolf wrote:
    Maybe they should be better at what they do.

    Let me put it this way, its cheaper to import milk on a ship from another country (so loads of travel costs, refrigeration costs, import taxes + hassle, plus the normal costs), than it is to take it from a farm nearby and put it in the shops.

    I think that speaks volumes for how rubbish UK farmers are. They get huge enough subsidies under the CAP as it is.

    British farmers aren't as well subsidised as some of their foreign counterparts. France gets 22% of CAP money, Spain 15% and Italy 12%, compared to the UK which gets 9%.

    The CAP has some disasterous side effects on primary economies...
  • nolf wrote:
    Maybe they should be better at what they do.

    That's a fantastic attitude to adopt towards industry in this country. Perhaps you'd like to go tell the lads at Corus that? I'm sure they'd accept your criticism. Or perhaps some ex-miners up Country Durham way?
    "A cyclist has nothing to lose but his chain"

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  • As I listen with only half an ear to R4's Farming Today at 5.45am everyday(one of the tightest, best produced prog's on the radio), I have the impression that we import from the continent more milk than we produce here. Or, if that impression is wrong, then, it's a goodly proportion of what's on the supermarket's shelves.

    "Maybe they should be better at what they do." is a cutting jibe, and a wee bit cruel. We now live in an emasculated country that appears to produce censored -all, and have become a nation of limp wristed shoppers. It's the economics of the City that have enfeebled us, so the traders can pocket their million quids bonuses yearly. Yes, it's the old one about the rich getting richer whilst the poor get poorer.

    No room here for a discourse on modern economics, and anyway, I cannot pretend comprehend it. But, on the face of it, our farmers are being given the short straw again by our governors here, just like our miners and fishermen before.

    P.S. As I spent late youth as a trawlerman (out of Reykjavik), I can appreciate the irony of how we richly subsidise Spanish fishermen to enlarge their fleets to come and fish in our waters. There's something not quite right about it all. Nothing at all to do with 'better at what they do'. OK, maybe they're better at the paperwork and finding the loopholes upon which to profit.
    "Lick My Decals Off, Baby"
  • "Better at what they do" It's the sort of statement from people who are very short sighted/ignorant make.

    I work for Rolls Royce, the company are considering selling the business I work for to a czech company because they claim they can do the work at 1/3 the cost. Only thing is, it transpires they cannot actually do the work at all and need to "purchase the workforce" in order to do the work. Not suprisingly the workforce are not prepared to be sold like slaves.
    Tail end Charlie

    The above post may contain traces of sarcasm or/and bullsh*t.
  • We could & arguably should, produce all the dairy products needed, however EU regulations forbid it.
    Whenever "Maybe they should be better at what they do." is raised, check out the reasons why, Corus has been raised, that's owned now by Tata, production's being shifted to India to benefit from the carbon trading frauds, Oh, who's being paid big money by Tata and heads up their TERI division? Rajendra Pachauri, who just happens to be chair of the IPCC.
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  • We could & arguably should, produce all the dairy products needed, however EU regulations forbid it.
    Whenever "Maybe they should be better at what they do." is raised, check out the reasons why, Corus has been raised, that's owned now by Tata, production's being shifted to India to benefit from the carbon trading frauds, Oh, who's being paid big money by Tata and heads up their TERI division? Rajendra Pachauri, who just happens to be chair of the IPCC.

    I saw that today, apparently Tata will take away up to 1bn quid from closing down Corus at this point? Disgraceful.

    Teesside has been censored over the past year. First the Sea Dragon contract was pulled from the Tees 2 days into the job (my dad left a job to start that as he was promised 2 years work, got his notice a day into his contract) and that went down pretty quietly. Combine this with Corus closing and it's a very sorry state of affairs up here. What makes is worse is the fact that the true numbers of people losing their jobs out off this is more than just the 1600 at Corus, the true figure will probably be at least twice that if you include the satellite industries. My friends father has worked in the IT department at Corus (formerly British Steel) since he was a young man (16), he's been there nearly 40 years, and has watched different companies shut down the most productive aspects of the plant to make it appear as if it's going down the pan. Despite this it's still one of the most efficient and productive plants in the world.

    I'm going to stop before I rant. It's pathetic anyway, and the biggest kick in the teeth has been the response of Mandleson and the local MPs, ie censored all.
    "A cyclist has nothing to lose but his chain"

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  • il_principeil_principe Posts: 9,146
    nwallace wrote:
    Now, having a non-existant manufacturing base is one thing, but having no farming industry is another. Time the government stepped in in some way (not sure how) to make sure the farmers are protected. Or are they going to stand idly by (let the free market decide) until it's too late.

    Ever spoken to a farmer about government intervention in farming?

    I say speak, but it would actually be a rant from said farmer, the government are guilt of seriously ******* up the farming industry.

    +1 This government cares not a jot about rural issues.
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  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    nolf wrote:
    Maybe they should be better at what they do.

    Let me put it this way, its cheaper to import milk on a ship from another country (so loads of travel costs, refrigeration costs, import taxes + hassle, plus the normal costs), than it is to take it from a farm nearby and put it in the shops.

    I think that speaks volumes for how rubbish UK farmers are. They get huge enough subsidies under the CAP as it is.

    Seems like you have picked up where teagar left off, the all encompassing talent of stating the wrong thing completely and hacking everyone off, hahahahahahahahahaha
  • nwallace wrote:
    Now, having a non-existant manufacturing base is one thing, but having no farming industry is another. Time the government stepped in in some way (not sure how) to make sure the farmers are protected. Or are they going to stand idly by (let the free market decide) until it's too late.

    Ever spoken to a farmer about government intervention in farming?

    I say speak, but it would actually be a rant from said farmer, the government are guilt of seriously ******* up the farming industry.

    +1 This government cares not a jot about rural issues.

    My argument is the government should take notice of our farmers plight and help them. They have shown little or no regard for the manufacturing sector, but have rallied (rightly IMHO) to rescue the bankers. They in return have shown the true face of capitalism by then rubbing the tax payers nose in it by continuing to pay obscene bonuses to people who are already "well heeled".
    Tail end Charlie

    The above post may contain traces of sarcasm or/and bullsh*t.
  • rakerake Posts: 3,281
    the government wont help. i had it all explained to my thick intellect on this site. apparently it doesnt matter if we dont produce anything in britain. goods dont have to be physically moved about to trade. i dont know how it works but apparently we have something else in high demand that will enable us to keep buying things.
  • nolfnolf Posts: 2,016
    I doubt it is a simple as UK farmers being "rubbish". You might as well say we are rubbish at car building, printing books or making shoes etc etc.

    Perhaps the foreign farmers have lower costs because the price of the land they farm on is cheaper and they can subsist on even less money than the supermarkets pay UK farmers. They may even have the advantage of slave labour picking the green beans, bananas or whatever it is that gets flown into the UK, thus making their running costs even lower.

    Part of the problem is also that people here have come to expect cheap food and all year round availability. And then there are big pension fund shareholders who have the power to virtually demand the supermarkets generate perpetually growing profits year after year.

    Fair point, which I accept.
    It isn't necessarily that they're not good at what they do, but that they can't compete with people from abroad who have often have lower costs, allowing them to undercut British competition.

    But in business, if the measure of success is the ability to break even (keeping people in work and continuing production capability), or make a profit (to reinvest in the business/save), then surely farmers in this country are failing to acheive that? Rubbish may be too strong a word, but "failures" may not be. Regardless of outside circumstances, those making a loss arguably represent an outdated business model, and as such should be allowed to die, so that new better businesses (or larger profitable farmers) can take them over.

    I'm a bit scpetic though of people feeling the need to protect the farming industry. We already import huge quantities of food, indeed we could not survive on what we produce. Even during the war (2nd WW), we were incredibly reliant on US food shipments to see us through, and that was with a far smaller population base, and every garden turned into an allotment.

    If we are overly reliant on 1 country for our food, that poses a risk, but if we spread the risk by importing food from all over the world, countries with different power bases and alliances, then I would have thought it would offset a lot of that risk.
    "I hold it true, what'er befall;
    I feel it, when I sorrow most;
    'Tis better to have loved and lost;
    Than never to have loved at all."

    Alfred Tennyson
  • downfaderdownfader Posts: 3,686
    My old man has spoken to several farmers in his time (he works for a gas installation firm).Several of the guys he speaks to get up at 4am, start work 15 mins later, have a quick breakie at 6 or 7am, fit in lunch when they can and tend to finish work around 7-8pm. They're in bed by nine, but if its summer/harvest time they can be working on 3-4 hours sleep.

    Wouldnt want to ever be in that position myself.
  • bails87bails87 Posts: 13,317
    nolf
    Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labor force

    I don't think we're as dependent on others as is made out.
    MTB/CX

    "As I said last time, it won't happen again."
  • rake wrote:
    the government wont help. i had it all explained to my thick intellect on this site. apparently it doesnt matter if we dont produce anything in britain. goods dont have to be physically moved about to trade. i dont know how it works but apparently we have something else in high demand that will enable us to keep buying things.

    Nail on the head.

    When at some point in the future we no longer make/grow/mine/process anything 'cos it can all be done cheaper abroad; what will we actually be doing to generate the cash to purchase the imports?

    Don't suppose it matters 'cos all those that have raped the country of its wealth will all be living on fat cat pensions elsewhere in the world. I,along with all the pseudo capitalists on here who haven't really got any money but are just "Thatchers children" can scrape along crying into their groole.

    It won't matter if the cost of a carbon fibre bike is £200 if you haven't got a pot to pi55 in and you can't afford £1 for a loaf of bread.
    Tail end Charlie

    The above post may contain traces of sarcasm or/and bullsh*t.
  • nolfnolf Posts: 2,016
    bails87 wrote:
    nolf
    Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labor force

    I don't think we're as dependent on others as is made out.

    Very good point.
    If we are supplying a lot of the food ourselves, then in terms of deciding on what the future holds:
    Is the productive capacity of the agricultural sector falling as farmers go out of business, or is the growth in larger more productive farms making up for it?

    Anyone got any figures showing trends for farming output over the past 20 years?
    Might shed a bit of light on what the truth is.
    "I hold it true, what'er befall;
    I feel it, when I sorrow most;
    'Tis better to have loved and lost;
    Than never to have loved at all."

    Alfred Tennyson
  • rakerake Posts: 3,281
    nolf wrote:
    bails87 wrote:
    nolf
    Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labor force

    I don't think we're as dependent on others as is made out.

    Very good point.
    If we are supplying a lot of the food ourselves, then in terms of deciding on what the future holds:
    Is the productive capacity of the agricultural sector falling as farmers go out of business, or is the growth in larger more productive farms making up for it?

    Anyone got any figures showing trends for farming output over the past 20 years?
    Might shed a bit of light on what the truth is.
    the truth is you only need to look at what percentage is imported. money spent on imports is removed from here, buying feed and equipment and paying wages which are spent on usual daily things, which are also imported a lot. much of our milk comes from france and germany like water gas and electricity which incidently has shot up in price as our dependance has increased, simple market rules of supply and demand which some seem to think are irrelevant.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 50,112 Lives Here
    rake wrote:
    nolf wrote:
    bails87 wrote:
    nolf
    Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labor force

    I don't think we're as dependent on others as is made out.

    Very good point.
    If we are supplying a lot of the food ourselves, then in terms of deciding on what the future holds:
    Is the productive capacity of the agricultural sector falling as farmers go out of business, or is the growth in larger more productive farms making up for it?

    Anyone got any figures showing trends for farming output over the past 20 years?
    Might shed a bit of light on what the truth is.
    the truth is you only need to look at what percentage is imported. money spent on imports is removed from here, buying feed and equipment and paying wages which are spent on usual daily things, which are also imported a lot. much of our milk comes from france and germany like water gas and electricity which incidently has shot up in price as our dependance has increased, simple market rules of supply and demand which some seem to think are irrelevant.

    If Milk imports become more expensive than locally produced milk, milk will stop being imported.

    People go for the cheapest price. If a farmer/entrepreneur sees that milk can be made and sold here for cheaper than the imports, then someone will do that.

    That is what free markets are about.
  • CressersCressers Posts: 1,329
    If Milk imports become more expensive than locally produced milk, milk will stop being imported

    What if by then, there is little or no domestic milk industry left, having been driven to closure by being undercut by imports?
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 50,112 Lives Here
    Cressers wrote:
    If Milk imports become more expensive than locally produced milk, milk will stop being imported

    What if by then, there is little or no domestic milk industry left, having been driven to closure by being undercut by imports?

    I didn't think the barriers to entry for the milk market were that big?
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 50,112 Lives Here
    It's not like people are loyal to particular milk brands!
  • bails87bails87 Posts: 13,317
    edited March 2010
    It's not like people are loyal to particular milk brands!

    I only buy milk that's come from cows called Daisy!

    Also, don't we waste something like a third of our food. So that 60% would be more like 90% if we cut out the waste.

    The potential to produce 90% of our food with only 2% of the population is pretty impressive really. Any shortage, or price hike by foreign farmers, would lead to areas that are currently 'uneconomical' to farm being used for food production as well as more people being attracted to agriculture by the higher wages.
    MTB/CX

    "As I said last time, it won't happen again."
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