Farming Today... and Tomorrow

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat Apr 30 21:42:49 BST 2005

"Farming Tomorrow" not "Farming Yesterday"

Dear Sirs,    

'Blessed are the cheesemakers for they shall inherit the earth.' Python, Monty

Are the only alternatives for the future of the countryside 'an unmanaged
wilderness or an ordered countryside cultivated by farmers'? What are
'farmers' anyway?

Is someone who makes 70% of their income from cheesemaking 'farming' as one
of your interviewees portrayed this week? -for 'cheesemaking' substitute
B&B, Go-Karting, market trading, equestrianism, property developing

If so, then "Are the cheesemakers to be the custodians of to-morrow's
countryside?" would be an appropriate question for 'Farming To-day.'

Or perhaps there are other more important factors affecting the look of
tomorrow's countryside?

I suggest one more relevant factor affecting the behaviour of those which
your programme calls 'farmers' and who might better be described as 'those
in the agricultural sector', is the countless £billions in public pensions
paid to them  through the Common Agricultural Policy of the E.U.

Tax farming' might better describe the sector.

Another factor is the U.K. planning system which is injecting further
countless £billions into the agricultural sector in the form of increased
land values derived from directing planning gains to land-owners at the
expense, principally of house buyers and the less fortunate tenant

Any debate about the future look of the countryside without considering
these factors leads to such an obviously  false alternative as 'scrub
versus  farmland managed under the present system.'

The withdrawal of CAP support could free millions of U.K.  acres from
commercial crop  (and waste)  production., and another million from sterile
set-aside. It would also  increase the possibility and popularity of
farming to perhaps a new generation of largely self-sufficient and
sustainable  smallholders seeking an alternative to  town and city life
which many feel is  becoming less and less attractive  because of
unemployment, traffic, congestion and crime,  and less relevant  since the
passing of our formerly industrial society.

The effect of re-directing the planning system to support those in need of
housing and away from rewarding those not in need of land, could lead to
re-populating our deserted countryside.

John Constable's paintings could act as a guide to the 'landscape with
dwellings' to which we might aspire.

Farming to-day, both the programme and the activity is as much about
propagating myths about the countryside as about agriculture. 

Yours faithfully,

James Armstrong
email: <james36armstrong at>
22 Harveys Terrace
tel 01305 265510

The Land is Ours

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