Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Former Lib Dem MEP says farmers feel abandoned by the Tories

The latest edition of East Midlands Bylines has an article by Phil Bennion, a farmer and former Liberal Democrat MEP.

Commenting on a Farmers Weekly poll last week that found 98 per cent of respondents took the view that the government does not have farmers’ best interests at heart, he says:

Considering that the overwhelming majority of farmers usually vote Tory, this is a resounding condemnation of government policy. The combination of government positions on the Agriculture Bill and the International Trade Bill have brought farmers to the conclusion that they have been betrayed by the government.

Although many farmers have been shocked by the situation, I predicted this outcome last year, saying that Brexit could lead to a triple-whammy for farmers. Firstly, they faced losing Common Agricultural Policy ... payments already proposed in Gove’s draft Agriculture Bill. Secondly, they could lose access to their main export market in the event of a bare bones or no deal. And thirdly they could be exposed to imports from low cost producers with access to methods that are illegal here in the UK.

Thus far all three scenarios are on track to become reality. This would render farming uneconomic in the UK, with the exception of a few niche sectors.

Faced with such comments, left-liberal Twitter loves to point out that farmers mostly vote Conservative so it serves them right. As if habitual Tories becoming disenchanted with their party and voting for someone else instead isn't exactly the outcome we want.

Or they will say that the farmers all voted Leave, so it serves them right.

The support for Leave amongst farmers is often exaggerated. Surveys conducted by Farmers Weekly in the Decembers of 2016 and 2017 found that 53 per cent of them had voted Leave.

Given that farmers are more likely to be men and older than the population in general, this is not the figure their critics would expect.

For more on this see my post Did we want to defeat Brexit or just to feel superior?

No comments: