Category Archives: Agricultural

Bake Off judge quits Tories over food standards. She was fine with all the other horrific policies

The media – in this case, the Mail – want to draw your attention to the fact that Bake Off judge Prue Leith has ended her membership of the Conservatives over a policy that her Tory MP son supports.

Isn’t it more revealing that she was only upset by the policy that directly affected her?

The Tories could do anything to other people and she didn’t mind at all.

Austerity has killed many thousands – Leith was quite happy about that.

Homelessness and hate crime did not stir her from her work.

She didn’t even bat an eyelid when her son voted to starve English children who have been forced into food poverty by the Conservative Party’s policies.

But the possible arrival of diseased foodstuffs from the United States has outraged her enough to quit her party membership.

I don’t know…

Does she really think the population of the UK need to be protected from low-quality foods, after thinking they didn’t deserve protection from Tory-led austerity, hate and starvation?

Or is it a pose she thinks she has to take as a media personality on a food-related TV show?

Here’s the relevant part of the story:

Prue Leith has quit the Conservative Party after the Government blocked an attempt to enshrine high food standards in law.

A Conservative source told The Mail on Sunday Ms Leith has … cancelled her party membership after growing unhappy with the Government’s stance.

Ms Leith’s son Danny Kruger, the Tory MP for Devizes in Wiltshire, voted with the Government on the Agriculture Bill, defeating an amendment that would have protected British farmers.

And here’s the public reaction:

Yes indeed.

I have never watched Bake Off.

Considering the fact that it has employed a person like Leith, I can honestly say:

I won’t be watching Bake Off in the future, either. Who knows what other abhorrent views are held by the people working on it?

Source: Prue Leith quits Conservative Party in protest at Government’s stance over foods standards | Daily Mail Online

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Brexit: Your Tory MPs have betrayed UK agriculture after promising not to

Chicken: if this one was of the US chlorine-washed variety, do you think Boris Johnson would be soiling his hands with it?

We knew that Tory promises were no good, didn’t we? So we did 14 million people vote for them last December?

I’ve never found an answer for that one.

The usual old chestnut that “the other side were worse” is plainly wrong. Labour’s offer – and leader – was a vast improvement on Johnson and his rabble, as anybody can see.

They can certainly see it now, anyway.

Today’s scandal is that Brexit will now cause a flood of cheap food imports into the UK that will destroy our farming industry and poison our people.

Tories: you voted for this. Brexiters: you voted for this. Indeed, many farmers voted for this.

Here’s what they promised:

But (as Si Anderson puts it in earthy terms above), yesterday evening’s (October 12) vote in Parliament ensures that the Tories will be able to compromise those protections, just to get a deal with the United States:

Farmers and food campaigners were defeated on Monday night in their attempts to enshrine high food safety and animal welfare practices in British law.

Several prominent backbench Tory MPs rebelled against the government to vote for amendments to the agriculture bill that would have given legal status to the standards, but the rebels were too few to overcome the government’s 80-seat majority and the key amendment fell by 332 votes to 279 after an often impassioned debate.

The government argued that giving current standards legal status was unnecessary as ministers had already committed to ensuring that UK food standards would be kept in any post-Brexit trade agreements.

However, critics fear that the lack of a legally binding commitment in the agriculture bill will allow future imports of sub-standard food that will undercut British produce and expose consumers to risk.

Be honest; given Johnson’s record of u-turning on his promises, this means chlorinated chicken for dinner. It will be cheap at the shop, but it will cost us our entire agriculture industry.

And that is what Boris Johnson intended from the start – before the 2016 referendum, even – it seems.

Here’s what we’ll be getting:

Boris Johnson and his cronies won’t be getting chlorine-washed chicken, of course – they’ll be able to afford the higher-quality meats. But you will be in danger.

Opponents of Brexit have taken the opportunity to remind us all of Boris Johnson’s words in 2016 – so we can remind him at the appropriate time…

… not that it will make a difference. He does what he likes. You voted for that, Tories. You voted for it, Brexiters.

Here’s how it’s panning out:

Just to rub salt into the wound, it seems support for remaining in the EU is rocketing, with 57 per cent of the nation now in favour of it.

What a shame. After three years of fighting over it (up to the election in 2019), that debate is over. The Brexiters got what they wanted and you have been shafted. Nobody currently in power will do anything to reverse the decision.

Still, there remain a few optimists who think there will be recourse to law if harm can be shown as a result of this decision:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Tory ministers are above the law.

The police and CPS actively avoid investigating any allegations of crime or wrongdoing by our elected government.

And Dominic Cummings could go on a murder spree in Barnard Castle and he would still walk free at the end of it.

But you can bet that a lot more people will suffer because of last night’s decision by Parliament to poison our farming industry, and our people.

Source: MPs reject calls by campaigners to enshrine food safety in UK law | Politics | The Guardian

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Lords defeat Johnson over food standards because they don’t want chlorinated chicken

Chicken: if this one was of the US chlorine-washed variety, do you think Boris Johnson would be soiling his hands with it?

Boris Johnson’s hopes of a trade deal with the United States are looking increasingly like a house of straw… built on sand.

Already leading figures in Congress have said they will block a trade deal if Johnson pushes his Internal Markets Bill into UK law, as it would break international law and – particularly – threaten the peace in Northern Ireland.

(Did Johnson really dream up this Bill because his Russian donors demanded it?)

Now the House of Lords has amended his Agriculture Bill, so that food products imported under any future trade deals must meet or exceed current standards in the UK – to prevent farmers in this country from being undermined.

For the opposition, Lord Grantchester warned: “Low-quality food cannot be allowed to jeopardise rural communities by undercutting UK farmers with products using methods that would be illegal here.”

Consumers did not want chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef to be imported from the US, he said.

It was only by supporting the Labour-led move that peers could be sure the Government was “bound to its commitment not to import food of lower standards than our own domestic products”, Lord Krebs said.

Baroness Boycott, a crossbench peer, said chlorinated chicken was the “tip of the iceberg” of “bad food” which could come into the country.

The amendment is a rejection of the Tory government’s claims, as summarised by Baroness Noakes:

“The government’s policy is clear. They are committed to higher food and welfare standards.

“We do not need to write into law what the Government is committed to.”

Clearly the majority of the Lords disagree – and who can blame them?

The whole point of not writing such a commitment into legislation is to ensure that a government can U-turn on it, once it has been enacted, and we all know it. That’s why the amendment has been brought in.

Unfortunately, it is well within Boris Johnson’s power to throw out the Lords’ amendment, so that the eventual law will undermine UK farmers, and will allow diseased meat onto our plates.

It is possible that MPs will stop and think for a moment before blithely voting it away, though; debate in the House of Lords is of a higher standard than that in the Commons and their reasons for changing a Bill deserve careful consideration.

Many Tories represent rural constituencies full of farmers.

How will those people take it if one of the earliest actions of these MPs in the new Parliament is to stab their voters in the back?

Source: Government defeated in Lords over post-Brexit food standards | The Independent

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Should we have any sympathy for Leave-voting farmers facing bankruptcy after ‘No Deal’ Brexit?

Sheep: British farmers voted for Brexit like herds of sheep driven on by the dog. If they had thought for themselves, perhaps they wouldn’t now be facing bankruptcy.

A former chief economist for the National Farmers’ Union has said one in three farms could be driven out of business within five years if Brexit continues without a trade deal with the EU.

According to Farmers Weekly:

Sean Rickard said half of all farms were already unprofitable – and would be even less so after the government phased out direct payments to growers and livestock producers.

The situation would deteriorate further with no deal, he added.

Didn’t these people all vote for Brexit?

This Writer remembers attending pre-referendum meetings here in Mid Wales, with rooms full of Welsh farmers clamouring for the UK to leave the EU as soon as possible.

My recollection is that this was the pattern across the UK.

So it seems to me that they are getting exactly what they wanted.

Source: Farms could fold in no-deal Brexit, warns top economist – Farmers Weekly

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These Yorkshire MPs voted to cut the quality of your food. Did your MP join them?

While Covid-19 steals all the headlines, you may have missed the fact that Conservative MPs have voted to allow lower-quality food to be imported into the UK.

They deliberately set themselves against an amendment to a new Agricultural Bill, stating that no free trade deal should be signed that allows low-quality food into the country.

It’s not so much Marie Antoinette saying “Let them eat grass” as Boris Johnson saying “Let them eat chlorinated chicken”.

The website Yorkshire Bylines published a list of MPs in the county who voted to reduce the quality of the food we all eat (above).

You can see if your MP agreed with them by checking the Parliament website here.

To her shame, in a rural constituency, This Writer’s MP Fay Jones also voted to reduce food quality.

According to Yorkshire Bylines:

The amendment’s defeat was all the more shocking because the clause was merely an affirmation of what was in the Tory manifesto just six months ago which declared:

“We will defend British industries from dumping and other anti-competitive practices from overseas.” and “In all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.”

Conservative party manifesto 2019 – page 57

The amendment had the backing of the National Farmers Union and the Country Landowners Association as well as the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs Select Committee.

The fact that the government did not support the amendment should concern us all.

The excuse given by Victoria Prentis, parliamentary under-secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs (HERE column 295), was that it could somehow affect the export of goods such as whisky and potatoes. She explained that an assessment of the standards of other countries with whom we are trying to negotiate continuity trade agreements, could not be done by December – a deadline that the government has imposed on itself.

The report stage of the Agriculture Bill was followed by a debate and third reading. It now goes to the House of Lords for consideration. The hopes of many farmers will be resting on peers to protect then from low priced and low quality imports in future.

Source: Revealed, the Yorkshire MPs happy to see your food quality reduced – Yorkshire Bylines

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Romanians flown in to help crisis-hit farmers. So much for the ‘land army’. And Brexit. Oh… and the coronavirus

What a bloody shambles, but I said it would be.

I stated: “Farms used to take on a lot of seasonal workers from EU countries before Brexit but that opportunity isn’t open to them now, partly because the UK has left the EU and partly because movement between countries has been stopped because of the pandemic.

“So now farmers are calling for help, saying the work should appeal to students, jobseekers and anyone who has been laid off work due to the impact of coronavirus.”

And I pointed out: “Certain unscrupulous farmers should not expect to pay native Brits the same pittances they foisted on foreign nationals just because they could.

“But most of all – the glaring issue that seems to have gone straight over their heads – there’s this: Coronavirus demands that we stay away from each other. How are they going to ensure that workers stay safe?”

It seems many Brits felt the same way: a “feed the nation” appeal by the government flopped badly.

So much for the so-called “land army”.

Instead, the government has opened the UK’s borders to allow Romanian workers into the country to carry out the work. So much for Brexit.

And of course, any checks for illness are being carried out at the Bucharest end of the flights. Has the UK ever imposed checks on people coming into the country?

So much for the coronavirus.

All in all, it really makes a mockery of the Tory government’s efforts to sustain agriculture.

At this rate, who knows what sort of harvest we’ll get?

Romanian workers are being flown in to help feed Britain amid a continuing recruitment crisis in the agriculture sector.

Special charter flights have started flying into the UK from Bucharest with desperately needed workers for British farms that risk losing their crop of early summer fruit and vegetables because of the coronavirus lockdown.

One plane was due to land in Stansted airport on Wednesday afternoon, with another landing on Thursday with 150 people onboard.

Source: Romanian fruit pickers flown to UK amid crisis in farming sector | World news | The Guardian

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This appeal for people to work on farms because of the coronavirus has one major flaw

Farm fruit pickers: there might be a problem with social distancing!

Farming industry leaders are appealing for British people to work on farms, claiming a workforce shortage due to the coronavirus.

This Writer’s first thought was: oh, not because of Brexit, then?

Farms used to take on a lot of seasonal workers from EU countries before Brexit but that opportunity isn’t open to them now, partly because the UK has left the EU and partly because movement between countries has been stopped because of the pandemic.

So now farmers are calling for help, saying the work should appeal to students, jobseekers and anyone who has been laid off work due to the impact of coronavirus.

But how much are they willing to pay?

Certain unscrupulous farmers should not expect to pay native Brits the same pittances they foisted on foreign nationals just because they could.

But most of all – the glaring issue that seems to have gone straight over their heads – there’s this:

Coronavirus demands that we stay away from each other. How are they going to ensure that workers stay safe?

Source: Coronavirus: Urgent appeal for Brits to work on farms – Farmers Weekly

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Grant offer for farmers to protect the soil is a VERY rare instance of the Tories doing what’s right

Soil degradation: It’s a huge threat to UK farmers but they seem to need government incentives to fight it.

Mr and Mrs General Public sure seem stupid – from news stories over the last few days, it seems government policy really does need to lead them by the nose.

This Site has reported on the fact that members of the public would rather have a faster train journey than protect valuable natural habitats.

Now it seems farmers need to be incentivised into protecting the soil that they need, in order to keep their businesses viable (and us fed).

What is wrong with people?

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, if we continue to degrade the soil at the current rate, the world could run out of topsoil in about 60 years.

Without topsoil, the earth’s ability to filter water, absorb carbon, and feed people plunges and we all die.

But farmers still need a financial incentive to do the right thing.

It’s as This Writer has said for many years, though: government sets the conditions under which we all live.

People will do whatever they can to live as well as they can – in the short term, because they delude themselves that the long-term future is someone else’s problem.

That puts a lot of power and influence in the hands of our elected representatives.

So, before anybody starts praising the Tories for doing the right thing in this case, consider all the cases in which they are not.

A promise to do more to protect the soil will form part of a vision for the UK farm industry being unveiled by the government.

Ministers have accepted that farmers need incentives to farm in a way that leaves a healthy soil for future generations.

Soil protection has become a core issue of the Agriculture Bill that is returning to Parliament.

In post-Brexit Britain [farmers] will be rewarded for providing services for society like clean air, clean and plentiful water, flood protection and thriving wildlife.

The grant changes will be phased in over seven years.

Source: Agriculture Bill: Soil at heart of UK farm grant revolution – BBC News

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Joe Healy was right to say Boris Johnson’s latest Brexit plan was putting ‘lipstick on a pig’. Here’s a picture of that

Boris Johnson: Lipstick on a pig, according to the artists at The Prole Star.

The president of the Irish Farmers’ Association came up with a fabulous comparison for Boris Johnson’s latest Brexit proposal.

And it has inspired artists on the social media.

Joe Healy of the IFA said Mr Johnson’s plan to install “Custom Clearance Centres” on both sides of the border was not a credible alternative to the Northern Ireland border backstop currently demanded by the EU.

But he didn’t put it like that. He said these “Custom Clearance Centres” were border posts under a different name and Mr Johnson’s plan was therefore an attempt to “put lipstick on a pig”.

“The purpose of the Backstop is to act as a fallback in the event that a future trade deal cannot address the NI Border issue to the UK and EU’s satisfaction.

“This latest proposal is an attempt to put lipstick on a pig.  A customs post is a customs post, no matter what is called or where it’s located,” he said.

“The Irish Government should reject this CCC proposal and stick with the backstop which, after all, was agreed by the EU and the UK Government in the Joint Report of December 2017, when Boris Johnston was Foreign Secretary,” he said.

Source: UK PROPOSAL IS AN ATTEMPT TO PUT LIPSTICK ON A PIG – Irish Farmers’ AssociationIrish Farmers’ Association

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Badger cull is expanded to ‘unimaginable scale’. Why do Tories hate them so much?

What is the Conservative fascination with killing badgers?

Was a Tory agriculture minister once baited by one?

Or is the badger cull the Tory response to the hunting ban?

It seems they are determined to get their kicks from killing animals somehow.

The badger cull certainly has no justification in terms of beating TB in cattle.

So, why are the Tories determined to expand it, if not for cruelty?

The controversial badger cull in England has been expanded to an “unimaginable scale”, according to a leading expert who warned the government is paying far too little attention to the transmission of tuberculosis between cattle when they are traded.

Ministers approved culling in 11 new areas on Wednesday, taking the total to 43. Up to 64,000 animals are likely to be killed this autumn, up from a maximum of 42,000 last year.

TB infections in cattle blight farms and cost taxpayers more than £100m a year in compensation payments. But scientists and conservationists oppose the cull, saying there is little evidence it is effective and is being badly run.

Source: Badger cull in England extended to ‘unimaginable scale’ | Environment | The Guardian

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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook