Will the farming crisis lead to a change in policy towards the countryside?

The Land Is Ours office at tlio.demon.co.uk
Tue Feb 27 19:08:19 GMT 2001

extract from Chapter7's critique of the Rural White Paper (particularly 
thought-provoking in the light of current farming crisis):  More complete 
article, go to: http://www.oneworld.org/tlio/chapter7

Common Agricultural Policy Reform. (8.2)
The section on CAP reform contributes nothing that is not already existing 
policy. It is stated “Our aim is progressively to move towards a CAP which 
encourages farmers to be more competitive and responsive to market signals 
so that they can make a good living while at the same time following 
practices which conserve and enhance the landscape and wildlife.” Yet it is 
evident that it is pressure to be competitive that very often leads farmers 
to manage their land in an unsustainable way and their livestock in an 
inhumane manner. There appears to be no mention of this fundamental conflict.
Restructuring of Farms
The White Paper states that “There will still be room for large and small 
farms” (p.89) but also talks of “major restructuring in the industry”. 
There is no mention of how, if at all, small and family farms are to be 
protected from pressures for concentration of land-ownership. The 1999 
Cabinet Office report Rural Economies went into considerable detail 
concerning the various options for applying modulation (redirection of 
subsidies) some of which are more favourable to agricultural employment and 
small farms than others. There is no mention of this crucial debate in the 
White Paper.
Farm Diversification
No distinction is made between diversification that is ancillary to and 
supports the agricultural activity on a farm (eg food processing, 
retailing, farm-orientated tourism) and other forms that replace 
agricultural activity (computer consultancy, industrial storage etc). The 
danger that many forms of diversification could undermine the agricultural 
basis of the farm and eventually turn the enterprise into (say) an office 
set in a nice piece of countryside is not even discussed. Nor is the fact 
that allowing industrial uses in farm buildings will raise the price of 
such buildings for people who want to use them for the purposes for which 
they were originally intended. Chapter 7 is not totally opposed to forms of 
diversification that offer a part-time income to farmers, but to introduce 
these measures without any discussion of the potential effects is an 
abdication of common sense.

New Entrants into Agriculture
There is no mention whatsoever in the chapter on farming of new entrants 
into the industry, as if they didn’t exist. Yet throughout history, when 
established forms of farming have been in crisis, other newer forms have 
come in to take their place (see Alternative Agriculture, Joan Thirsk, 
Oxford, 1999). A report by Lucy Nichol of Oxford Brookes University shows 
that in 1999 in South Somerset, while 45 buildings and dwellings have moved 
out of agricultural use, there have been 70 applications for new 
agricultural buildings and dwellings. Agriculture may be in crisis, but it 
is not moribund. If new entrants cannot secure agricultural buildings 
because they are outbid by people putting the buildings to light-industrial 
or office use, then will have to put in applications for new farm 
buildings. This would in effect be a form of greenfield development through 
the back door.

The Land Is Ours
... A Landrights Movement for All

The Land Is Ours campaigns peacefully for access to the land, its resources 
and the decision making processes affecting them, for everyone - 
irrespecitive of race, age, or gender.

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