William Taylor, FFA UK NI co-ordinator and co-ordinator of Northern Ireland Farm Groups gives the Brexit farming facts from a Northern Ireland perspective.
The EU was conceived in the 50’s after the terrible events of the Second World War by a Mr Monet, a Mr Schumann and others. It was modelled on the United States of America and had as its goal for Europe as the two PP’s, peace and prosperity. It has by and large been quite successful at delivering the peace including Northern Ireland.
Prosperity went well until the 1980s when the large food corporate retailers, the large food corporate wholesalers, to a lesser extent the large corporate food processors and the large co-op food processors, who behave like corporates, began to take over. They influenced the EU ship in the wheelhouse, persuading them to talk the talk but letting the corporates walk the walk, increasingly in their interest.
In short, the hard working family farms and rural businesses of rural Europe are being short changed in what they should expect from the Treaty of Rome, the Lisbon Treaty, the Maastricht Treaty, the Human Rights Laws and all the other EU promises to the people.
Article 39b of the Lisbon Treaty states in short, that rural dwellers are to be properly rewarded for their work but, as explained, we know in whose interest it is not to deliver this pledge. Today, 50% (ie peace) of what goes on in the EU is good, the other 50% is now corporate corrupt at the top (ie the missing prosperity for rural dwellers).
Then we come to Westminster, where we have seen the actions of successive UK governments since the 1980’s. As the corporate corrupt EU prosperity machine started financially milking farmers and rural dwellers, so did Westminster, again due to increasing food corporate influence including the bankers, to which even Blair’s new Labour became easily addicted – to date, although change may be afoot.
If proof were needed of this new 21st century UK politics, pillaging rural UK financially for the sake of food corporates’ profits, then look no further than the 2015 verdict by the Supermarket Ombudsman against Tesco. A few days after this, Vince Cable (past Lib Dem MP in the last Coalition Government) was interviewed by the BBC and asked what he thought of the outcome; he summed it up by saying, ‘when we were in Coalition we pushed hard for the Supermarket Ombudsman’s office to have increased powers but also the ability to fine the large supermarkets but the Tories wouldn’t hear tell of it – if the ability for the Supermarket Ombudsman to fine had been in place, Tesco would have been fined up to £400million.’
I ask you what chance does a family farm have of getting a fair price for their produce against the financial might and influence of these food corporates both in Westminster and Brussels, therefore, the Northern Ireland case for legislation on farm gate prices. Legislation on farm gate prices now having been worked on for over two years in Northern Ireland and shortly to be put to Stormont, if successful it would return farmers a minimum of the cost of production plus a margin inflation linked across the staples.
The case Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA) and Farmers For Action (FFA) in Northern Ireland are trying to put with this legislation is what Brussels should have done 20 years ago, were it not for the corporate influence otherwise and if this model proves successful then hopefully the idea will spread.
If we stay in the EU, we have a citizens of Europe entitled route all the way to Brussels and Strasbourg with this legislation plan. If we leave, the large food corporates will carry on business as usual on the 24th June and so far in Northern Ireland we cannot see a legal route being agreed with Westminster for legislation on farm gate prices any time soon. Yes, they may give subsidies like the ones we currently receive but do not forget these are worthless because the food corporates are taking them by stealth, therefore, in or out we need legislation on farm gate prices! Hopefully after reading this information the new slant on your farming rights within the EU will help you decide which way to vote.
Further evidence is available by reading the Gosling Report: http://www.paulgosling.net/2016/01/on-the-eve-of-destruction-a-report-on-northern-irelands-farming-sector/ and its proof of prosperity for Northern Ireland, should the legislation succeed. This would deliver the missing Prosperity that the EU’s founders
“If we stay in the EU, we have a citizens of Europe entitled route all the way to Brussels and Strasbourg with this legislation plan. If we leave, the large food corporates will carry on business as usual . . .”
Contact William Taylor
56 Cashel Road, Macosquin, Coleraine, BT51 4NU
Tel. 028 703 43419 / 07909744624 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
As supermarkets insist they give a good price to the middlemen – processors – both deny responsibility for the fall in average price farmers receive for a litre of milk in the UK by about a quarter to 23p from almost 32p in mid-2014 – see today’s Financial Times. The FT continues: “About 260 of the UK’s 12,000 dairy farmers have sold their herds since January . . . many farmers are ‘out of pocket’ with the cost of production averaging about 30p a litre”.
Speak out at your peril
In January a linked site reported that, as 60 dairy farmers went out of business, the parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee, chaired by Anne McIntosh, urged the Government to intervene. It wanted the Groceries Code which covers suppliers to the big supermarkets and retailers, to be extended to include dairy farmers.
She was deselected.
State radio debunks the issue; EFRA minister Liz Truss, let them grow chillies, natural justice not on the agenda
No thoughts of natural justice appeared in the Oxford Farming Conference address of Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who refers to ‘the huge export potential of this industry’ and rejoices that ‘we now grow chillies which we export to Pakistan and Mexico’.
Placing the issue third after Angora goats and use of level crossings, the BBC gives priority to the destructive comments of the ‘sympathetic’ corporates’ economist, Sean Rickard, who tells dairy farmers that if they can’t manage under these conditions, ‘they should give up making milk and live off the subsidy’.
Arla processor blames the global market
Ash Amirahmadi, head of milk and member services at Arla, dairy middleman, dismissed attempts by the NFU to target retailers’ margins and blamed the farmers’ plight on the drop in the global milk price.
The knock-on effect to other industries and the rural economy
The Western Morning News reports that in an interview for BBC Radio 4’s On Your Farm programme, Princes Charles said: “I happen to think the small farmer, the smallholder, is absolutely crucial to the maintenance of food security . . .”. Jeremy Corbyn agreed: “There are some big issues to be tackled about how big supermarkets squeeze small farmers, and how this can knock on to the wages of agricultural workers or producers in sectors such as the baking industry . . . it is clear that something needs to be done to make sure that supermarkets pay fairer prices to small farmers without passing that on through higher prices for consumers.”
In fact, as a Lancashire farmer often points out, the whole rural economy is also affected as farmers lose income. Each working dairy farm returns a huge amount of money back into the wider economy, supporting many other regional businesses, and therefore helping to provide jobs for many. Each dairy farm that ceases to trade has a knock-on effect on the surrounding community and the economy, due to a loss of income to many other businesses. See press release.
Producers of perishable milk fruit and vegetables should learn from industry and combine
Factories do not sell their products at a loss, but those producing perishable food are often required to do so. Will vulnerable food producers ever learn from industry and combine? And would Jeremy Corbyn be prepared to enable and support this?
If not, what hope is there for those who produce perishable food?