Culture shock

Much of the debate during the evenings in London centred around the single farm payment.

A surprising number of the group have been arguing that they successfully farm without subsidy and that it should be scrapped. From a consumer side of things and with my socialist hat on, I find it difficult to justify propping up unsuccessful enterprises artificially.

We were constantly told during the London briefing that the pro-subsidy members of the group would have a hard time arguing the case for subsidies, so they last thing I expected on my first evening in Washington was to find Australian farmers who thought the SFP was bloomin’ great.

It turns out a few of them had spent the last week in Wales and seeing the hills and meeting farmers who said they couldn’t survive without subsidies had convinced them they were good a thing. They didn’t accept any of my arguments about why I think the system’s flawed and instead said if someone was going to give UK farmers money, they should just say thanks very much and skip happily back home.

I was surprised at their lack of bitterness in the system – they seemed to think that all farmers were a member of one big club and if their international colleagues were benefiting, then fair play to them.

There’s a joke about a farmer who was given three wishes on the basis that his neighbour would get double, so he asks for one of his testicles to be removed. I wonder if UK farmers with that kind of mentality – the ones who hate their neighbours having something they don’t – would be as gracious as the Aussies if the subsidy tables were turned.

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3 Responses to “Culture shock”

  1. William

    Heres a subsidy takers thoughts, imagine the hill areas of the UK in a post subsidy apocalypse, when land abandonment becomes a reality and rural communities continue to age and dwindle. Its not necessarliy the direct subsidisation of farms thats is the key, but the knock on effects of the cash burning a hole in the farmers pocket and spending.
    ” Keep your town in business by keeping your business in town!”

  2. Rob

    I’m yet to hear your compelling case for getting rid of it. You did have all week!!!

  3. Caroline Stocks

    I gave a brilliant, compelling and flawless argument on the way back from the vineyards – it’s not my fault you fell asleep and missed it…