unknown CAP tax

james armstrong james36armstrong at hotmail.com
Tue Jun 7 21:01:54 BST 2011

copy of letter to To Feedback, Radio Four and Radio Times . 




Most of us now live in cities and must like me,  appreciate the beautiful English landscape
we  see on ‘Countryfile’  and enjoy over-hearing John Craven’s
conversations with farmers.  Maybe it’s
because so many of us have left the land that so very few know about the Common
Agricultural Policy  (CAP) of the

According to a Eurobarometer poll conducted in 2010 for the
European Commission, only 15% of us claim to have read or heard of CAP and to know
what it is.

But John Craven should know that taxpayers spend some
£4billion each year  to correct market
failings in the UK
agricultural sector – as much or more than we spend on  the Job seekers Allowance. 

  On the 5th
June Countryufile programme we were left with a feeling of inevitability that dairy farms would get
bigger and bigger, and that the days when high yielding cows spent their entire
life indoors in herds of thousands were not far off.   A
'leading vet' said this does not cause the cows’ welfare to  suffer and a farmer with a herd of   750 cows kept indoors 24hours a day,  said this system was ‘correct for these cows.’

What was not mentioned was that the stress of such high milk
yields drastically reduces the life of cows to a few years, cows  which may otherwise give as many as eighteen  years of milk production. 

The vet and the farmer must have known this, and John Craven
should have raised the issue in his wide ranging investigation which covered
low milk prices for farmers, dairy farmers going out of business, the danger of
m.r.s.a. and the destruction of cattle caused by the foot and mouth epidemic. 


‘Efficiency’ is not everything .  The future needn’t be super-sized.   The industry and the taxpayers recognize
this.  That’s why so much money - £200
from each British household each year - is
allocated (mostly unknowingly by the tax-payers) to correct undesirable
outcomes of the agriculture industry.

Traditional farmers selling off dairy herds of 380 cattle
and the farmer intensively rearing

750 dairy cows indoors for all their lives, are working on a
corporate scale and likely to be receiving huge CAP cheques each year. An
example is one farming estate in Dorset  (belonging to Richard Drax M.P.) which  received a
CAP payment for 2009 of £417,000. 

  The un-identified
‘leading vet’ is also likely to have an interest in ‘big farming’ especially if
he is  from the National Farmers Union
lobby, like so many of BBC interviewees on farming programmes .

There is currently  a
big reform of the CAP underweigh and people are invited by the Agricultural
Commissioner to make their views known- especially because it is their money
which is being spent, but BBC programmes like Farming Today on Radio Four and
Countryfile on BBC One have a big backlog to make up to improve  peoples’ knowledge about agriculture and
could help direct these much needed reforms use these huge funds to help keep
smaller farmers in business and to ensure the welfare of animals is not
sacrificed in the name of  size and
‘efficiency’ and corporate profits.


Armstrong ,  Dorchester                                                               
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