landbarons capture BBC

james armstrong james36army at
Tue Aug 5 09:42:43 BST 2008

sent this protest .To the Controller BBC Radio 4,  (copy to BBC Trust) - Farming TodayTW   Saturday 12th July 08
Dear Sirs,            A scream  from the land of Gabriel Oak 
  To-day's FT programme on the NFU's reaction to the Benn badger  decision  is  yet one more  example of  pro corporate bias or obtuseness by BBC . We heard the CLBA , the NFU were given extended air time, also a working dairy farmer and some-one attending the NFU political badger rally with the NFU President  centre stage. One animal rights activist spoke.
    There is another constituency  vitally  involved in farming and apparently not considered in FT. - the listeners who neither farm nor own land but as dwellers in this beautiful island have an interest in the corner of the earth  where they find themselves, called England, who as taxpayers contribute  £3billion to the agri industry and as  consumers  pay higher food prices because of  EU protection. There are perhaps 190,000 families in agriculture and some multiple of ten million town dwellers interested in the countryside and most often unknowingly, paying the piper. 
How semi-detached is BBC?  One giant corporation addresses and listens to a second, the NFU, with a chorus from the monopolist landowners organised in the CLBA and ignoring  the people who finance both broadcasting and agriculture and suffer from land monopolists.
  There is no justification for not knowing that the NFU Mutual Insurance company generates huge profits for the NFU which in no sense personifies the  vision  which people have of a 'farmer'  yet NFU and FT seem each morning to arise from  the same bed. 
Town people are ninety per cent of the pop. and  appreciate  rural  life. The title 'Farming to-day '   is as much divorced  from its content as it is  from agri-reality dominated and defined by CAP  and by giant  limited corporations  driven by profit, owning and operating collections of farms.
     Farming to-day  around  the hometown of Gabriel Oak and Bathsheba Everdene. 
In  central Dorchester the NFU occupies  an imposing  building  set in extensive gardens. Two or three  large corporations own the  fields around Dorchester.  The workers- modest 'farmers' - are tenants of  "Woodsford Farms Ltd"- which corporation  owns three thousand eight hundred acres  -or of the absentee Duchy of Cornwall which  owns much of the remaining land  including the land underneath the houses of many of the  citizens, as part of their  national acreage of  57,091 hectares most of which is farmland benefiting from EU payments. Jill and I walk these fields daily, watch the crops  and flocks and rarely (once) saw a 'farmer'.  To the producers of FT, have we  no agricultural interest, no stake or voice in farming ?   Conventional wisdom is that a farm of less than 200 acres is hardly viable. EU and HMG agricultural policy is based on growth and like BBC  encourages larger farming corporations. Thousands of worker farmers- both owners and tenants
 and hundreds of thousands of farm labourers have disappeared from the farming scene. The stranglehold of the corporations increases as they hike up land, food & house prices. 
'Wealth accumulates and men decay' has progressed some since the 1770's of Oliver Goldsmith. 'Farming' is now an industry, of giant corporations, cultivating  the media, and farming taxes, is represented by perhaps the most influential trade body in industry, supported by monopoly landowners, massively subsidised by the state, shielded from competition, shielded from the commercial risks of disease, driven by profit, is prepared to put public health at risk, wages war on wildlife, has  manipulated changes to the  political system, and daily lobbies EU.
  Mark Holdstock asks the NFU president.  'Aren't your hard pressed farmer/members  going to be penalised by the NFU's legal costs?' clearly forgetting NFU Mutual's profits and  and single farm . payments' of £15(?) per acre  e.g. for  3,800 acres- annually.
 But then  £details of the subsidies are off limits for FT.   BBC interviewing 'concerned' farm workers to-day without setting this in the context of agribusiness is perverse, but consistent with BBC ethos. Why no  extended programmes from Brussels defining the EU role? Should the barley barons not the taxpayer  subsidise their  'hard pressed' colleagues?' -can we have  a breakdown of handouts to the tycoons, foreigners and landowners the FT calls 'farmers' ?….
        Can FT  please  try to reflect in future programmes the true nature of agribusiness with a view to informing listeners about our  disfunctional 'farming' and  the economic and political interests behind it? This will require better informed producers and a more questioning, radical  and even critical viewpoint which can only add interest to your broadcasts. Exploiting people divorced  from the land is the central theme of British  history and politics yet  FT manages to ignore it and  be so-o-o-o-o-o  predictable.   
NFU has clearly captured 'Farming Today'. Please can we have our programme back? 
Oh, I almost forgot. Was the farmer compensated for daisy andf Bluebell and the quota sold off?




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