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Alistair McConnachie published Sovereignty from July 1999 to its 120th consecutive monthly issue in June 2009, and he continues to maintain this website.
Alistair McConnachie also publishes Prosperity - Freedom from Debt Slavery which educates about the nature of our debt-based money system and A Force For Good which advocates the maintenance of the United Kingdom.
To find out more go to the about who is Alistair McConnachie page.
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This article by Alistair McConnachie appeared in the November 1999 issue of Sovereignty.

There is a disturbing tendency among some "eurosceptics" to advocate a complete abolition of all farming subsidies. A recent Sunday Telegraph editorial ("A farewell to farms", 29/8/99) rehearsed this line, claiming that "the ultimate goal for any sensible policy on agriculture," was to ensure a farming industry that could function without taxpayer support. It complained that EU membership prevented this goal. Well, of course, it would be nice to have an industry that did not have to rely on taxpayer support; but how do we achieve it? The above editorial resigns itself to the economics of the day, advocates the abolition of subsidies and appears content to throw the industry to the wolves. It amounts to a policy of managed decline based on survival of the richest.

What is the logic of this? No doubt, Britain would have a very economic farming industry indeed, if all land were converted into one giant ranch owned by one person. However, even then, Britain would only be able to compete at this level until France or Germany did the same thing. That's the problem with this approach. You keep chasing your tail for greater and greater economies of scale.

Therefore, even if we leave the EU, we will still have to challenge the advocates of this approach. Their mentality is totally unrelated to any socially conscious purpose - it doesn't care about the rural community; and devoid of any intention to challenge the economic status quo - it doesn't question why agriculture should be yet another British industry to die. It doesn't question an economic system which is centralising the green fields of Britain in fewer and fewer hands. It doesn't question why an industry which once provided a living for millions can now only provide a living for thousands. What is going on?

As Mike Rowbotham points out in The Grip of Death: A Study of modern money, debt slavery and destructive economics (Charlbury, Oxfordshire: Jon Carpenter Publishing, 1998) aggregate income from the whole farming industry was three times higher in real terms in 1948 than in 1990. In other words, farmers were able to make a living three times more easily in 1948 than today (p.115). This has happened as the prices farmers receive have decreased, as costs of production, and the amount of debt carried by farmers have risen. In 1985, 40% of all income from farming in the UK went to pay bank interest charges. Today it is around 25%. The overall level of indebtedness in the industry is vast. No wonder farmers need subsidies when they have such huge debt commitments to meet. Solutions to this indebtedness must be found. Where there's a will, there's a way... a policy of managed decline is not acceptable.

Firstly, we must affirm the New Zealand model is not for Britain:

The following letter was published in The Daily Telegraph of 1st October 1999
from the Earl of Rosebery, South Queensferry, West Lothian:

Christopher Fildes is wrong to say that British farming could copy that of New Zealand, where subsidies and controls have been cut (Business News, Sept. 25). There are two fundamental differences in our circumstances.

New Zealand has low-cost, export-led agriculture, helped by the fact that, in its mild climate, winter feeding is rarely required. Before the subsidies were cut off, New Zealand had a high-cost, highly unionised meat processing and exporting industry. The farmers managed to bypass this and set up their own efficient system which passed a reasonable proportion of the available income back to the farmers. This could not work in this country as there is now no way to bypass the big supermarkets, since planning restrictions and cost considerations would prevent farmer-led co-operatives from being set up.

The Monopolies and Mergers Commission would prevent any farming co-operative from becoming powerful enough to influence prices - look what happened to the Milk Marketing Board.

For a market economy to work, there must be curbs on monopoly buyers as well as monopoly sellers, and a market for exports, including live exports, must be available, otherwise the price mechanism does not work.

The second point is that New Zealanders do not have the animal welfare curbs that we have. This allows them to ranch their sheep and cattle, taking little or no care of them and accepting unburied dead animals.

Secondly, we must build upon key objectives:

  •   Maintain a British farming industry, as a good in itself.
  •   Sustain the rural economy as a whole.
  •   Put the national interest first. This means we must leave the EU.
This would also save enough to fund a new set of support mechanisms, which could be targeted towards a more sustainable programme which encourages small farms, young farmers, local production and distribution networks, organic production, and policies which protect the environment.

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