Index of this Section Front page of Site
Donate to Sovereignty Join e-mail List Subscribe to Printed Journal


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 explains a solution for the economic crisis and A Force For Good which makes a positive case for the UK Union.
To find out more go to the about who is Alistair McConnachie page.
Buy the Complete 10-Year, 120 Back Issue Set of Sovereignty - worth £162.50 - for only £89 inc p+p, a 45% discount. Cheques to Sovereignty, at 268 Bath St, Glasgow, G2 4JR or go to the Sovereignty home page and click "Buy Now".

Christopher Booker
The Booker Column
the torching of the orchards
Sunday Telegraph
21 March 2004

Cider makers and apple growers predict that the skies over the West Country will blacken next autumn, as tens of thousands of apple trees go up in smoke: The reason is yet another extraordinary anomaly in the way that Margaret Beckett and her officials at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have chosen to apply the new "single farm payment" scheme.

Under a change to the EU's farm subsidy system, farmers will be paid not for what they produce but according to their acreage. Uniquely in the EU, however, Britain has chosen to exclude the growers of apples, pears, plums and cherries from payment. Growers of hops, soft fruit, asparagus, and willows used for fuel will, like other farmers, receive £230 a hectare per year. Orchard owners will get nothing -- unless by January 1 they have uprooted all their trees, in which case they will receive the full £230, even if the ground is left unused.

This decision is particularly absurd in view of all the efforts in recent years to revive England's apple orchards, after years of decline when British fruit growers found it hard to compete with EU-subsidised Continental competitors. According to the European. Commission, three-quarters of the apples grown in France were destroyed once hefty subsidies had been claimed.

The choice that Mrs Beckett presents to orchard owners is stark: destroy your trees by the end of the year, or you will never again be able to claim payments on the land -- while you compete with foreign growers who are heavily subsidised. According to Julian Temperley of the Somerset Cider Brandy Company, "half the traditional orchards in my part of Somerset will go". John Thatcher, who runs Britain's largest farmhouse cider business, predicts that next autumn the West Country will see "the biggest bonfires since foot and mouth, only they will smell better".

Donate to Sovereignty Join e-mail List Subscribe to Printed Journal
Index of this Section Front page of Site