Category Archives: Agricultural

‘If Johnson refuses to save our bacon, farmers should dump pig carcasses outside Number 10’

Pigs in peril: yes, I’m using the same image as before – of a pig that looks like Boris Johnson. It’s to establish a ‘running theme’ between stories on this topic.

A shortage of butchers and abattoir workers caused by Brexit means 4,500 pigs are likely to be culled within days – and the government isn’t even talking to farmers.

It seems the government is not only failing to help the UK’s livestock farmers; it is refusing to help them.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s only reaction to the crisis was a poor taste comment last week that the pigs would have become “bacon sandwiches” anyway – stupidly missing the point that they’re not going to become any kind of foodstuff at all.

Meanwhile, it seems his government is failing to help the UK farming industry – which faces implosion – while signing trade deals with foreign countries for substandard food.

It seems this is the true meaning behind the Brexit slogan about “Taking back control”: destroying the UK farming industry and buying bad food from abroad.

For a snapshot of the situation, watch this BBC interview with a pig farmer – and take note of the comment on Twitter that this is someone who campaigned for Brexit . Undoubtedly this person is now regretting turning a blind eye to Johnson’s lies:

Personally, I like Sam Brook’s suggestion of how farmers should deal with this issue:

It really is the only way to bring the situation home to Boris Johnson: dump it on his doorstep. Do any of our farmers have the guts to do it?

UPDATE October 12, 2021: Minutes after this story went up, a Facebook commenter wrote: “Don’t do that – we know what those Tory boys do with dead pigs.”

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The UK is collapsing – and the threatened pig cull is just a symptom

Boris Johns- oh no! This is just a pig! But if Johnson’s fate was the same as that awaiting up to 150,000 porkers, he would undoubtedly have thought twice before telling all those porkIES about Brexit.

Who thought the sunlit uplands, post-Brexit, would look like this?

And now we’re being told that potentially 100,000 pigs will be killed – not for their meat, but because there is a nationwide shortage of butchers and abattoir workers.

According to Sky News,

The crisis has been blamed on an exodus of eastern European workers, many of whom returned to their home countries after Covid-19 travel restrictions were eased but have not returned.

That has meant the abattoirs where they worked are operating at as much as 20% below capacity – unable to take as many pigs as normal – leaving farms overcrowded.

Meanwhile

The UK faces a shortage of pigs in blankets this Christmas as a lack of butchers threatens to disrupt supplies of pork, industry leaders have said.

Over to our pigs-in-blankets correspondent, Katy Brand:

At least nobody is trying to blame this crisis on Covid-19.

The shortage of butchers and abattoir workers represents a significant threat to the UK economy.

How much is a pig worth? How about 100,000 – or 150,000, as we’re now hearing the losses rumoured to be?

A lot of money, This Writer would reckon.

And James Rees’s neighbour isn’t the only one. Here‘s Peter Mortimer, 73, whose pigs aren’t ready for slaughter and will therefore miss the currently-mooted cull, but who

said rising costs and a lack of local labour were among issues that had made his business in Metfield, Suffolk, “unsustainable”.

“It’s about time he [Boris Johnson] realised action is needed immediately to sort this problem out,” said Mr Mortimer.

“He doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to understand the situation – he’s lost the plot.”

Asked why he was bowing out, he said: “There have been a few issues, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was that I needed to employ some more staff, and I advertised locally and I got no response at all.

“The job involves getting your hands dirty – like abattoir work – and people don’t want to get involved.

“We’ve also got high feed prices – wheat passed £200 a ton on Friday, and its unsustainable to feed pigs, with the prices we’re getting [for them], for any length of time.”

The knock-on effects are frightening. The abattoirs are losing money, as is every other business along the chain from farmer to plate.

And those of us who enjoy a nice slice of pork, or bacon, or gammon, or sausage, or – yes – pigs in blankets will end up going without.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson and his Brexiteer friends are still saying Brexit will bring enormous benefits to the whole nation.

I have a doubt, though.

How will our businesses prosper if they have all gone bust because of Boris Johnson’s short-sightedness?

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Food chain collapse means Brexit is hitting schools – and the media are whitewashing Johnson

School meals: Boris Johnson’s Brexit means these are soon to become a rarity.

The Brexit-prompted HGV driver shortage means school canteens are going to run out of food, it was revealed – just as English schools reopened for the autumn term.

Now, why wasn’t this ever mentioned before?

HGV drivers are chronically low-paid, which is probably why there was a shortage of 60,000 even before all the EU-national drivers – 25,000 of them – were told to go home by Boris Johnson’s gang of xenophobes (you call them the government).

There were plans to train up 19,000 new drivers but they were foiled by Covid-19.

So that’s 104,000 HGVs that aren’t servicing our supermarkets and schools. It must be terrific for reducing pollution but it’s not so good for your child’s nutritional needs.

But that isn’t even the worst of it!

Farmers are struggling to get workers to bring in the harvest, meaning much of the food they have grown over the last year may spoil.

Formerly people came from the European Union but “post-Brexit, that is a problem”.

Apparently 70,000 seasonal workers are needed but only 30,000 seasonal work permits are available to people now living in the EU. And there aren’t enough UK workers to fill the gap.

Either the Tories didn’t think about this when they were setting the number of seasonal permits available… or they deliberately planned to sabotage the harvest. Neither alternative is particularly palatable, is it?

This Writer will be charitable and suggest that the Tories didn’t think. There’s a precedent for this: they didn’t think the withdrawal from Afghanistan would be the mess they made it and they didn’t think giving Covid-related contracts worth billions of pounds to their inexperienced friends would do any harm, after all.

So this is probably just another symptom of Boris Johnson’s spectacular – nay, stellar – incompetence.

I’m sure you’ll take comfort from that when you look at your empty plate later this year.

And by the way, that’ll be partly due to a knock-on effect of all this: food prices are going to rocket:

According to the FT report,

the shortage of lorry drivers and more regulatory checks on imported food [will] combine with rising prices for fuel, freight and raw materials, experts have warned.

So that’s even before the effect on the harvest is taken into account!

People are, understandably, angry:

But some are strangely silent.

For example – the BBC. The omission that Peter Stefanovic mentions below is just symptomatic of the Corporation’s efforts to safeguard Boris Johnson and his Tory gang from any responsibility for their stupid decisions:

And – inevitably – they are helped in this by the utter failure of Labour MPs to highlight the harm and the reason for it. Anyone would think they had faults of their own to hide:

Perhaps it’s time people were reminded that they voted for this fiasco. Given a choice between a leader who would have ensured that there was food on our plates and Boris Johnson, the UK’s people voted for starvation:

For some, this will be the hardest part to swallow.

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‘Let’s kill bees!’ says the UK government after Brexit

One-third of the UK’s bees have died out in the last decade – but that’s not enough, according to our Conservative government.

It has authorised the emergency use of a bee-killing pesticide -containing the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam – in response to demands from farmers who want to save sugar beet crops from virus yellows disease. It has caused yield losses of up to 80 per cent for some growers.

But studies suggest that it weakens bees’ immune systems, harms the development of baby bees’ brains and can leave them unable to fly.

As pollinators, bees are vital, not only to the ecology of the UK but to that of the whole world.

The decision is a violation of a promise made by Michael Gove in 2018, when he stated: “We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.”

He added: “Unless the evidence base changes again, the government will keep these restrictions in place after we have left the EU.”

Perhaps the Tories think it’s okay to backtrack on this because 11 EU countries have also authorised the use of the pesticide.

But the evidence against it is very strong indeed:

Who can argue with that, all things considered? Lobbying has beaten scientific advice.

This should have particular relevance to us all as it may be applied to the Covid-19 crisis, also.

On a personal level, I can only agree with the following:

Credibility is not the Johnson government’s strong suit.

NOTE: If you want to join the call for the government to reconsider, please consider signing the petition here.

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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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