Bad decisions by government – 35: a short-sighted elitist, corporate friendly agricultural policy

“All I can see is a monster opportunity,” said Mr Paterson, before heading to China.

owen paterson on return from chinaIn the Financial Times, Louise Lucas describes DEFRA minister Owen Paterson’s steering of the latest attempts to ship food from Britain as a move “redolent of selling snow to Eskimos”.

She added “Britain is gearing up to sell more cheese to France, land of Camembert and hundreds of other sorts of cheese, and pork to China, home to half the world’s pigs”.

Who set this merry-go-round spinning?

In the mid-1990s, following heavy lobbying by banks, hedge funds and free market politicians in the US and Britain, regulations on commodity markets were steadily abolished. Contracts to buy and sell foods were turned into “derivatives” that could be bought and sold among traders who had nothing to do with agriculture. In effect a new, unreal market in “food speculation” was born.

Devon farmer Pippa Woods (FFA) and Kath Dalmeny (Sustain) disagree in “A Better CAP”: “The natural pattern of food production is for each country to use its own resources to feed itself as far as practicable”
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3.5 Doctrinaire theories that farming is just another industry and should be subject to international trade regulation to suit multi-national companies are causing untold misery all over the world. They completely distort the natural pattern of food production, which is for each country to use its own resources to feed itself as far as practicable.

Lancashire farmer Tom Rigby re the World Trade talks:

Tom - smallest 3The World Trade talks have ended in chaos. Outside the hall hungry farmers from across the world had been banging at the gates all week, the security fence just about held and thankfully there was little bloodshed . . . the only con­sensus seems to be amongst the farmers themselves, from the gates at Cancun to the FFA picket line, that the system does not seem to benefit us – so what is going wrong?

. . . They had come to protest at the injustice of using their markets as a disposal ground for our unwanted surplus, creating glut then famine, and despite all the recent reforms our detested system of intervention buying and export subsidies remains in place. (Farmers Guardian 19.9.03)

MH 2So who does benefit from the “mindless vortex quite unrelated to any conscious national purpose?” Cornish farmer Michael Hart, seen visiting US farmers on Transition TV, names a few:
  • Farmers don’t export anything but international traders do, so they are the ones who will benefit.
  • Processors and exporters are paid export subsidies to get rid of surplus production in the EU and USA caused by low farmgate prices which cause farmers (the world over) to increase production in order to survive and stay farming.
  • Major processors and retailers of the developed world want to deal with a few large farms – it makes their life much easier.
  • PCU adds another rich and powerful driving force: parasitic speculators. John Vidal explains: “The same banks, hedge funds and financiers whose speculation on the global money markets caused the sub-prime mortgage crisis are thought to be causing food prices to yo-yo and inflate. The charge against them is that by taking advantage of the deregulation of global commodity markets they are making billions from speculating on food and causing misery around the world”.
A resounding conclusion is provided by Peter Cruttwell quoting Paul Kennedy: “It is now beyond argument that it is the furious drive to manufacture and to export in order to finance imports, in a mindless vortex quite unrelated to any conscious national purpose, which is responsible for environmental destruction and resource depletion; and it is these distortions of the natural state which are largely responsible for fuelling the population explosion and for the seismic uprooting and urbanization of people by the billion around the world as they seek to respond with mesolithic brains and bodies to the twin imperatives of economics and technology”.

 

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Posted on May 7, 2013, in Banking and finance, Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Government, Lobbying, Parliamentary failure, Vested interests and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Peter Cruttwell

    I am Peter Cruttwell and I was NOT quoting Paul Kennedy. I was quoting me.The quote is from page 210 of my book History out of Control.

  2. Apologies for error – checked and could find no base for the assertion. It’s so long ago I have no way of discovering how the error was made. Great book.

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