Friday, September 26, 2008

Wait a minute

The Scottish farm minister Richard Lochead has firmly ruled out a demand from NFU Scotland for the early payment of £61m of less favoured area support. He pointed out that early payment would jeopardise the Single Farm Payment as EU rules state that SFP must be paid ahead of LFA support.

The Scottish NFU argued that early payment would provide some respite to farmers escalating feed, fertiliser and fuel payment. Many families are constrained by rising food, energy and petrol prices. Perhaps on the same logic child benefit should be paid out early?

In an editorial Farmers' Weekly calls for a 'coherent, joined-up plan ... from DEFRA, which encourages a scaling-up of UK food production'. It doesn't get much to get the farming community to fall back on a call for Stalinist five-year plans. Machine Tractor Stations anyone?

Those in farming tend to see the world rather differently from the rest of us. To be fair, there are progressive farmers who see the need to engage in a dialogue with consumers and respond to market opportunities. But all too often they are not the public voice of the industry.

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