Agriculture and Food Security
It is said that a third of the world population go to bed hungry. With the global population now 6 billion, it is estimated it will be 9 billion in twenty years. If we don’t act on pollution and environment, the population could quickly go down to five billion with mass famine and disease.
Whilst supermarkets promote cheap food, this is short-term gain, now Eastern Europe have joined the E.U. we may find with cheap labour and unused land in the East, the West will be getting even cheaper food. British farms will be unable to continue in food production, the countryside will become bramble and rabbits. When wages and values rise in Eastern Europe, food in West Europe will become expensive, the people will say why don’t we grow food here? But there won’t be anyone left to grow it unless we take a long-term view.
One solution is to create small farms that one can enjoy and create employment. Instead of paying set aside or countryside stewardship, the money could be used to help create new local produce i.e. cheese, a smokery, cutting room for meat, bakery, local pies etc. Local milk diary and egg suppliers, free range poultry for egg and meats, fruit storage, freezers for storage, energy crops should be grown.
It would be better for 10 farmers to have 40 cows each, than to have one farmer with a few hundred. Animals would have better care and attention.
Farmers who have no charge on their land are paying high rents for short term lettings so the price is spread over the whole. If they were paying a yearly charge they may not be so keen. The young farmer can’t bid on fair ground. In order to encourage more family farms we should introduce a land tax. The following table suggests a guideline as to rental value; English rates:-
Grade One - £50 per acre
Grade Two - £40 per acre
Grade Three - £30 per acre
Grade Four - £20 per acre
Therefore if one inherited a farm one would only pay tax equivalent of rental value and this could be paid annually into the National Fund. For example, if one inherited Grade Three land the following table would apply:-
1-100 acres - no tax
101-200 acres - 50% of rental value i.e. 200 acres = £3,000 p.a.
201-300 acres - 50% of rental value i.e. 300 acres = £4,500 p.a.
over 300 acres - 100% of rental value
Where land is let, no tax should be payable.
This would prevent multi-nationals from purchasing and controlling large estates. They could own but become the landlord. Rents would have to be within income from produce, anyone buying new land would have all subsidies stopped. The land would come under any new scheme.
The above rules would help some of the African nation sort out the land problem where white farmers could own but let some land to local people while still owning and farming some themselves.
If Africa was to establish boundaries similar to the European module, in order to concentrate on making their local land more fertile, then Africa could feed itself.
Money the UK spends on the EU could be used to help young people into farming, by means of free loans etc.
In order to keep a policy for food security, we need to make producing food a paying enterprise. We would not then need to consider GM crops. Council owned farms should be transferred to a farming company to stop councils being able to sell them off. Some large farm holdings could also be transferred to the company as an alternative to inheritance tax.
There are too many speculators in forward buying of food and land investors. A new concept is needed for land use.