Save our bacon

A rural idyll

Winnie the pig
veteran activist
Winnie the pig veteran activist

As pig farmers march on parliament the talk is of high grain prices and the trouble competing with cheap imports of pork reared to lower welfare standards. The answer is clear.

Imagine a Britain which has a vibrant rural society with a complex, mixed economy with a liberal approach to planning and regulation. The countryside repopulated and containing: village schools, shops, pubs, buses, post offices, farm shops, small abattoirs and food processors, affordable housing, employment opportunities for the young, entertainment, wildlife and a welfare friendly farm management system. Imagine a beautiful countryside supporting tourism, entertainment and recreation

Money should be spent supporting the rural infrastructure. This support would have a knock-on effect on the economics of farming, keeping workers and enterprise in the district and providing a broader economic base. Richard North wrote about this long ago and not much has changed. The money we currently send to Brussels would do nicely.

We could benefit from free trade and also defend our own interests. We would not spend our taxes supporting large agribusiness reliant on cheap labour. We could limit imports, not only from non-EU states but from our EU partners as well. To suit the needs of our own agriculture, we need to be able to apply our own import levies and quotas – the most effective instruments of control. Agriculture now accounts for only one or two percent of GDP in Britain, it occupies something like 80 percent of the land mass. With the present problems of increased demand for food in the world, higher prices partly caused by the West's demand for biofuel and industrialisation we also need to be thinking of our own food security.

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Rather than cheap imports flooding our supermarkets we could have British food, produced to high welfare standards. This would help the environment and reduce road and air miles. We could also help the developing world by free and/or fair trade methods which we could negotiate according to our own and other countries' mutual benefit. We would not be contributing vast sums of money to the CAP and imposing heavy import taxes, price supports and production controls, making it nearly impossible for poor farmers abroad to compete.

Now the spectre of famine looms. The exceptionally cold winter has exacerbated this. We should be doing our bit not to further deplete the basic world foodstuffs by using their food for fuel.

Our pig farmers that are going to the wall because they simply want to produce meat of a high standard from happy pigs. Is this really too much to ask that they should be able to make a living out of this?