Cheap milk versus farmers' rights?

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  • Former_MSE_ArchnaFormer_MSE_Archna Former MSE
    1.9K Posts
    MSE Staff
    Poll Title: Poll Started 4 April 2006: Cheap milk versus farmers' rights? A milk price war's simmering in the supermarkets but cheaper milk means farmers believe they're being squeezed tight. So where do your loyalties lie - to your pocket or farmers' fair play?

    C. Farmers' fair play. The cost's irrelevant; the supermarkets should be ashamed of the way they treat producers.
    50.7% (1578 Votes)

    B. Mid-way. I'm a bargain hunter but would pay a little extra if it helps. 33.5% (1043 Votes)

    A. My pocket. The cheaper the better regardless.
    15.5% (485 Votes)

    Total Votes: 3110
  • hjb123 wrote:
    The 'huge farm houses they live in' are in the majority been passed down through generations of the same family.

    And unlike the rest of us farmers are exempt from inheritance tax...
  • farmersamfarmersam Forumite
    4 Posts
    No they're not. Only are if they can prove that the farmhouse is an integral part of the business etc. If they can't prove that, they end up with a big bill.
  • i live in north lincolnshire land of potatoes and farmers, there are less and less dairys here now, i buy organic milk from my local dairy, i am on wftcr and may well be back on income support again soon due to longterm illnness, so i have to honestly watch every penny!, the comment about the farm houses and range rovers did hit home, i am surrounded buy huge homes some even stand empty rather than be sold, and yes we have many range rovers around us, but during our floods and the winter these farmers do their bit, pulling cars out of water and helping people in the snow drifts by getting tractors at all hours. they also dont wholely own these things, the farms are often mortgaged and the cars are subsidised as agricultural vehicles, but think of the diesel needed to nip jonny the 9 miles to local school twice a day, its very hard to make sweeping statements but i think each person must judge for themselves. sorry to bore you
    totally debt free:j and mortgage free too 2010
  • We seem to have lost the thread somewhere, but here we go again:

    Farming is laughing all the way to the bank this year, if the farmer has been clever enough to grow grain (and not sell it forward too soon).

    However there has been a tripple wammy on the live stock front.

    1. The 1960's version of Foot and Mouth was let out of a laboratory in Surrey. I wish the farmers best of luck in their efforts to sue the Government for their losses.

    2. Global warming and international trade, helped by a midge has moved "Blue Tongue" to English sheep flocks (and potentially cattle as well).
    This is an act of God. Why should farmers expect compensation any more than I should expect a subsidy because road fuel is now well over £1 per litre. It is not as though it is unexpected. Farmers on the other side of the Channel have had to cope with "blue tongue" for about 18 months. (Not to be confused with "blue ear", which has been doing its bit for increasing pork prices in China and contributing to 15% food price inflation with riots overe there.)

    In Wales and Scotland the tax payer is shelling out 15 GBP a head to purchase, kill and incinerate 500,000 "light lambs", because they could not be exported in the early autumn. Personally I would prefer to see a campaign to get us UK consumers to eat them, I think Waitrose tried to offer recipe advice BUT this would reduce the price to us shoppers as we chomped our way through cheap lamb. So we are paying to burn the bodies.

    3. Yes it is here again, and it looks like an act of God in the form of migrating birds. H5N1, the bird flu that people can catch and die. We cannot blame Bernard Matthews this time.
    It looks like it is going to be very expensive as most of Norfolk and Suffolk is already under some sort of restrictions.
    There is a case to be made for "rewarding" farmers for killing their birds, if this virus spreads, we are all at risk of a rerun of "Spanish" flu of 1918.
    Tip: Rush out and get a frozen Turkey as back up for Xmas. The posh free range ones with black feathers will be in short supply this year:eek:

    Here are some links and symptoms:

    http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/notifiable/bluetongue/index.htm

    http://www.farmersguardian.com/story.asp?sectioncode=1&storycode=14192

    http://www.farmersguardian.com/story.asp?storycode=14312

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/footandmouth/story/0,,2201090,00.html#article_continue

    ·Ruffled feathers
    ·Soft-shelled eggs
    ·Depression and droopiness
    ·Sudden drop in egg production
    ·Loss of appetite
    ·Cyanosis (purplish-blue coloring) of wattles and comb
    ·Edema and swelling of head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks
    ·Green diarrhea
    ·Blood-tinged discharge from nostrils
    ·Incoordination, including loss of ability to walk and stand
    ·Pin-point hemorrhages (most easily seen on the feet and shanks)
    ·Respiratory distress
    ·Increased death losses in a flock
    ·Sudden death
    ·Nasal discharges
    ·http://www.thepoultrysite.com/diseaseinfo/62/avian-influenzahighly-pathogenic-hpai-fowl-plague





    Meanwhile roughly the first 1 or 2 percent of the price of goods subject to VAT ends up as subsidies to landowners/farmers. Here is the latest news about this nonsense:

    Latest news from farmsubsidy.org

    In its annual report on EU expenditure published earlier today(13th), the European Court of Auditors has noted with concern how farm subsidies are being redistributed away from farmers and towards landowners, and has highlighted a range of 'non traditional' recipients of farm subsidies including golf courses, railways and horse riding centres.
    As has been the case each year for more than a decade, the Court has refused to approve the EU's expenditure. The press release issued today says that:
    "the Court again gives an adverse opinion on the legality and regularity of the majority of EU expenditure: primarily the part of agricultural spending not covered by IACS, structural policies, internal policies and a significant proportion of external actions. In these areas there is still a material level of errors found in the payments to final beneficiaries, albeit to different levels."
    In the chapter on farm subsidies, the report states that:
    "the Single Payment Scheme has led to a substantial increase in the number of hectares in respect of which direct aid is paid and beneficiaries. The Court has also noted among them railway companies (England), horse riding/breeding clubs (Germany and Sweden) and golf/leisure clubs and city councils (Denmark and England)." (p. 103)
    In addition to highlighting these curious recipients of EU farm aid, the Court found that one unexpected effect of the new Single Farm Payment is
    "a significant redistribution effect of EU direct aid away from those actually farming and towards landowners, who will see the value of their entitlements multiplied by four in Denmark and Germany and tenfold in England. In England, the flat rate element of entitlements was worth €28.20 per hectare in 2005, whereas all entitlements will have a face value of some €280 per hectare in 2012." (p. 104)
    In the past, landowners would rent out farm land to tenant farmers, and it would be the tenant farmer who would work the land and claim the subsidy. Under the new system in countries adopting the 'area based' system, landowners themselves can qualify for the Single Payment Scheme and are now receiving the payments themselves directly, while continuing to rent out the land to tenant farmers, who are essentially cut out of the system.

    The Court's report also finds fault with the implementation of the new style environmental stewardship schemes (also known as agri-environment) under which farmers are paid for reducing pollution from fertilizers and pesticides and improving wildlife habitats:
    "The Court’s audit found a high incidence of errors, by both nature and amount for the agri-environmental schemes. Payments under these schemes are dependent on respecting (often complex) conditions, such as observance of good farming practices. The Court found in seven out of eight cases audited that farmers had not met their commitments or that some conditions had not been effectively checked by the authorities."
    The report goes on to note with concern the large windfall profits that have been made by many beneficiaries as a result of the many changes in the system of farm subsidies that have been implemented over the past few years. It says that "only Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg and Sweden" chose to apply the so-called windfall profits clause that allows governments to claw back such windfall profits. It also notes that "the allocations made under the new farmers and investment schemes created substantial abnormal profits which fall within and outside the scope of the windfall profit clause". It gives a telling example of how people were able to work the system to generate significant windfall profits. It is worth quoting in full:
    "A simple transfer of a holding between family members during or after the reference period was sufficient to increase the number and values of entitlements allocated for the holding. In Ireland a farmer who stopped farming in 2002 leased his holding to his son. The father was allocated entitlements worth 38 000 euro on the basis of premia paid in 2000 and 2001. His son was approved as a new farmer and allocated entitlements worth 87 000 euro on the basis of premiums paid in 2002. In 2005 the father transferred his land and his entitlements free of charge to his son who ended up owning entitlements worth 125 000 euro. If the transfer had not occurred the holding would have been allocated entitlements worth 67 800 euro." (p. 105)
    Little of this is a surprise to the farmsubsidy.org network, whose members have been finding unusual and bizarre recipients of farm subsidies alongside the many royal (Queen Elizabeth, Prince Albert of Monaco, the Duchess of Alba) and corporate recipients of CAP aid (e.g. Arla, Campina, Nestle, Philip Morris, Tate and Lyle). Who would have thought that airlines Lufthansa and Gate Gourmet are getting six figure payouts in farm aid every year? This has been hidden from the public for decades, but transparency is finally bringing it all out into the open. In preparing its audit, the Court of Auditors has has access to all the data on farm payments from all member states: far more data than has so far been disclosed to the members of farmsubsidy.org. This data clearly exists and should now be made available to all European citizens.
  • Another threat to the property bubble:

    The EU is proposing to cut the 2% (ish) of our 17.5 percent VAT that is given to land owners, because they own farm land.

    Before anyone argues that this subsidy goes to "farmers" (ie guys who get up early to milk cows), these subsidies have been around so long that they have been well and truly capitalised into the unsustainable price of farm land and farm houses.

    Meanwhile over in USA, with an election to win, the politicians are throwing even more subsidies at their "farmers"; so they can sit on their back sides in their urban offices?

    This is a starting point. (life would be more interesting if Prince Charles kept a blog of what we are paying him in subsidies or even if England, like some open government countries, published the figures - 10,000 GBP kitchens at our expense anyone?):
    http://www.thriplow-farms.co.uk Saturday's program is a rational discussion of what is happening:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/news/farmingtoday/
    This Sunday morning BBC1 @ 11:00 program, with its lovely pictures of the countryside, makes a nice change from the usual "action" opiates served up as entertainment. This week it includes an item about subsidies (I think it will demonstrate that "It is the rich what gets the pleasure, its the poor what get the blame..........").
    [Well in the event it it featured a couple of farming brothers. Both sons of the soil, who seemed to have chosen parents with an agricultural background. Normally the clever sheep farmer manipulates things so he can stay up all night in mid winter "lambing" so as to get the best early prices, but this year lambs are selling at well over their pre Xmas price. It seems a mixture of antipodean lambs going to China and European sheep going down with blue-tongue is creating record prices. The really telling statistic is that there is over a 12 month waiting list for farm machinery - now that there is some tax to be off set]

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/countryfile/
    Some background information about the UK's rocketing food prices.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7288460.stm
    Finally it is so nice to meet an Estate Agent who is still bullish about his property prices: http://www.struttandparker.com/html/farm-prices-rocket.php

    BTW It is Open Farm Sunday next weekend. I had a very interesting walk and talk with a local grain farmer last year; shame he is not repeating the exercise this year - perhaps he is worried we will all expect him to buy the drinks.
  • Jad_2Jad_2 Forumite
    1 Post
    For a country that has had it so good for the last 10 years - we are now seeing the pinch, and instead of supporting our local communities we are shopping in supermarkets that ship in cheap food at low prices - Great, fill your kids up with low grade food! But how do you expect to get a better country for future generations when we do not support our own country.

    Farmers are going out of business daily, this year milk production will be down by circa 1 BILLION LITRES!! In a few years time we will be shipping milk in from the continent, that won't be cheap - and what will Aldi & Lidl do, buy from Germany and support the country where their head office is based!! Why support the cheap retailers in basically helping these cheap retailers push Britain to be a food import company and letting the manufacturers here go bust!!

    GET REAL - A PINT OF LARGER COSTS £2.50 - YET A PINT OF MILK 40p - think before you spend, every shopping trip matters, I for one would rather be socially responsible and see Britain get back to what we do best - farming, community work and helping one another - instead of in a few years time helping Polish, French and other foreign farmers!
  • So why are we buying Polish and French food?
    Polish farm workers get paid about 1.40 per hour; up from 70p at the time of joining our union.
    French farmers get big subsidies paid for by the British and Germans through the common agricultural policy. They also seem to be good at forming co-operatives encouraged by their Government. French farmers also get help to become farmers from their Government.
    Meanwhile grain farmers are laughing all the way to the bank this year because they produce something for which there is a world shortage - which seems fair enough to me.
    Now which country has had really serious problems with dodgy eggs, mad cow disease and foot and mouth?
  • I'm guided by the price on the shelves.

    The insane and bizarre state of agricultural subsidies, wastage and whining farmers doesn't move me one bit.

    Don't make money selling milk? Try being a taxi driver or something and keep your crappy problems to yourself.
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