Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Agriculture, a much overlooked industry, employing less than 2% of the working population and accounting for less than 1% of GDP might seem an unlikely source of future employment and importance.
And yet, as Aris Roussinos explains in UnHerd strains within the neo-liberal global economic order, unsustainable environmental pressures and the wreckage afforded to the conventional economy by Covid-19 and the relentless advance of AI and the digital economy may just provide an opportunity for millions to re-engage with the land as bespoke, sustainable small-holders, in bespoke, sustainable work.
The obstacles are considerable not least the pressure to secure free-trade deals with the likes of the US post-Brexit “which threatens to undo whatever modest good the Government is planning in a flood of cheaply-produced, sub-standard industrial produce from abroad.”
And support for such policies would have to be accompanied by changes in subsidy and planning, redirecting them towards “environmental and social goods, so that the loss-making sheep farming of the uplands would be replaced by sensitive afforestation for quality timber and fuelwood, renewable energy, land improvement, hill crops, local-scale horticulture and dairying, land management for wildlife and water conservation, ecotourism and rewilding and recentring the planning policies of the urban Green Belts around small farms, market gardens, dairies and forestry enterprises providing fresh local food for city-dwellers.”
(The Land Magazine).
“Rethinking farming will not be the answer to all of Britain’s problems,” admits the author,
“but, on a small scale, modest investment coupled with visionary thinking could do much to repair a world that is already in crisis, and to create a sustainable, resilient and satisfying way of life across Britain’s regions, reviving depressed local economies and mitigating the economic shocks to come.”
See Full article by Aris Roussinos in pdf form here >
On another, current agricultural issue Dan Hannan exposes the danger and hypocrisy of proposed amendments to the Agriculture Bill by Labour and disaffected Tory fellow-travellers which would give Britain the most protectionist food policy in the world. The implications for all of us would be horrendous. Concern for animal welfare and the environment are mere shibboleths but the unfolding consequences would be horrendous.
"What is being proposed...is that imported food should be prohibited unless laws equivalent to our own were observed at every level."
Here is the article in full in pdf >
Continuing the theme laid out by Dan Hannan, John Redwood provides a timely intervention on behalf of our agricultural industry in relation to our departure from the EU during questions in the House on Monday, 19th October 2020. Here are his questions to Michael Gove, Chancellor to the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office: