UK Subsidies – The Beginning of the End?Monday, Apr 30, 2001
An interesting outcome of the Foot and Mouth Epidemic in UK is the planned restructuring of their agriculture which in the words of Agriculture Minister Nick Brown “takes farmers away from production and towards countryside stewardship The days when we can expect farmers to protect the environment for the good of everyone - but not to earn any money for doing that - are over."
The UK Government's proposals will mean the end of the view that UK farmers are primarily producers of food.
This is of interest because of the effect such a restructure may have on the demand and prices for NZ produce that may be sold in Britain and to a lesser extent the EU.
Although not yet widely commented on, this major shift in the UK’s application of rural subsidies appears to be as significant as the repealing of the “corn laws” in the 1840’s. A change that devastated UK agriculture, but which brought growth and prosperity to many parts of the old empire and The USA.
Is this an early indication of an opportunity for NZ farmers? If it is what should be done to identify and produce the products that may match the demand?
First reaction may be to revert to the cosy feel of a 1950’s type arrangement. Such as with frozen lamb - minimum preparation, bulk wholesaling at the bottom end of the market. Not a desirable reaction but a highly likely one perhaps?
Could the structures to plan, produce and manage a change, long wished for but perhaps never expected, be put in place? If not, will NZ farmers again be left watching as others out smart us, in a food market that may be reopening in Europe.