THE SMALL AND FAMILY FARMS ALLIANCE2.11.02
UK government exchanges UK farming for arm sales.Mr Blair has been reported as being furious with the French and German agreement on the future of the CAP which left him out in the cold. It is pleasing to see that some governments understand the need to have their own farming industries for food security and see also the need for home produced high quality safe food.
Unlike the British government which is quite happy to see British consumers supplied with sub-standard unsafe imported food as we have seen in the recent salmonella food poisoning problems which involve imported eggs not produced to UK food safety standards.
Mr Blair and Mrs Beckett are forever claiming to want an UK farming industry that is successful. Mr Blair is quoted by No 10 at his press conference on the 4th October when asked to comment on the countryside march and concerns within the farming community. He said " We will carry on meeting the genuine and serious concerns there are within the farming community by continuing to put more subsidy into the farming industry than goes into the rest of British industry put together and we will carry on doing that". So what changed between 4th October and the summit meeting?
Farmers don't want subsidies but a fair share of the retail price and fair competition.
Mrs Beckett's department has just announced the members of a new group set up to implement the Report of the Policy Commission on the future of Farming and Food. Considering it is about farming and its future it is with amazement we find that there are no real farmers in its make up. The token gesture towards farming interests being an employee of the NFU and the boss of the largest agribusiness in the country which farms some 80,000 acres, hardly representative of the average sized UK family farm of 180 acres.
But then a piece of information came our way and maybe it provides the real reason for the lack of interest by this government in farming, and for what we thought was a lack of understanding about farming and a will to address the real problems facing UK farmers.
This piece of information came from the Bangkok Post on 19th October 2002. For Bangkok Post news item go to www.bangkokpost.com and news pages for 19/10/02
Britain signs arms-for-agriculture accordBy Wassana Nanuam
Britain has signed a counter trade agreement under which it will promote sales of Thai agricultural produce in return for supplying weapons to the military.
The deal was signed yesterday by British ambassador Lloyd Smith and Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, deputy Prime Mminister overseeing security matters.
Under the pact, the British government would seek to increase imports of local farm produce, as well as find new markets for Thai goods. In return, the military would procure arms from BAE Systems Co, formerly known as British Aerospace. Also present at the signing ceremony were Defence Minister Gen Thammarak Isarangkura na Ayudhaya and Defence deputy permanent secretary Gen Uthai Shinawatra.
So now we know the UK government is not interested in British agriculture's survival but is in fact exchanging UK family farmers and their businesses for food from Thailand promoted by the government so that it can sell arms.
Is this is why the "Curry" report was not allowed to address the issue most affecting UK farmers that of global trade in food. Is this why there are no real farmers on the implementation group, but retailers are well represented?
UK farmers have not had until now had such a clear signal that we are unwanted and expendable, but we get the message now.
Mistakenly we thought it was lack of understanding, but we now know better.
Will imports of food from Thailand be subject to the same food safety, animal welfare and environmental standards as those expected by law of UK farmers?
We very much doubt it given the record with imported eggs!
Michael Hart chairman of SFFA said " I find it unbelievable that at a time when farming in the UK has such major problems that our own government is going to promote sales of Thai agricultural produce in direct competition with UK farmers".
He went on to add "How many other deals has this government done like this? I know agriculture has a multifunctional role with food production and environmental care etc, but I didn't know that role included helping arms sales, do we get a sales commission?"