Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Brexit: and small farms and New Zealand

New Zealand has been seen as a role model:
Futures Forum: Subsidies and social engineering: or why we build roads.
Futures Forum: Climate change: “The perverse farm subsidy regime” >>> "paying the agriculture industry to help the environment seems to be working."
Futures Forum: Brexit: and life after the Common Fisheries Policy >>> >>> or: food sovereignty and the commons
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the impact of the planning system on the countryside: from the Woodland Trust
Futures Forum: Brexit: and learning lessons from New Zealand
Futures Forum: Brexit: and free markets and New Zealand
Futures Forum: The New Zealand 'experiment' comes to an end with banning non-residents from buying housing

Here's a view from the Guardian from earlier this week:

Clean, green New Zealand is a lie – and a warning for Britain’s countryside

Michael Gove plans to cut farmers’ subsidies while enhancing the environment post-Brexit. New Zealand’s cattle-wrecked land shows the folly of his thinking

Monday 4 December 2017 

There can’t be a more successful tourism marketing campaign than “100% Pure New Zealand”. And New Zealand is seen as a world leader in another respect: how its farmers sell their food globally without government subsidies. But the tension between these two successes has been exposed by Sir Tim Smit, the co-founder of the Eden Project in Cornwall.
Smit has sparked a minor international incident by declaring that New Zealand is “so pure the people of Christchurch won’t even swim in the river Avon. Most of the lakes are full of algae. It is like a beautiful person with cancer.” He was speaking to British landowners pondering the New Zealand model for post-Brexit agriculture. British farmers currently receive £3bn in subsidies each year; environment secretary Michael Gove must design a much smaller subsidy system – or scrap it altogether.
Smit argues that New Zealand is no inspiration despite its farmers surviving the removal of subsidies in 1984. Their response has been to intensify, and export milk to China.
Clean, green New Zealand is a lie – and a warning for our post-Brexit countryside | Patrick Barkham | Opinion | The Guardian

And here are other views in the letters pages:

Brexit is a chance to save our small farms

A fifth of English farms have disappeared in the past 10 years. Farm size diversity is key to sustaining rural communities, writes Graeme Willis

View from the Black Hill, Herefordshire.
 View from the Black Hill, Herefordshire. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Your article (Clean, green New Zealand is a lie – and a warning for Britain’s countryside, 4 December) highlights the huge opportunity Brexit has presented us to create a new agriculture policy that will restore the natural environment, as well as help the farming industry to become more financially resilient and environmentally sustainable. 
The removal of “subsidies” following the New Zealand model is not the route to achieving this. Public funding is critical to farmers’ livelihoods – without it, roughly half of farming is uneconomic. 
Those likely to suffer the most are small- to medium-sized farms already struggling in very tough markets. A fifth of English farms have disappeared in the past 10 years, and the rate is fastest amongst the smallest. Almost a third of farms under 50 hectares vanished between 2005 and 2015. Farm size diversity is key to sustaining rural communities through jobs as well as protecting distinctive local character. It is also crucial to maintaining England’s world-renowned landscapes and diversity of food. 
We are presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a farming policy framework and new funding model that will support all farmers, rural communities and economies if we are to create the diverse, thriving countryside most of us want to see.

Graeme Willis
Senior Rural Policy Campaigner, Campaign to Protect Rural England
It is unfair of you to reduce Michael Gove’s record as environment secretary to “presentational gimmicks” (Editorial, 5 December). 
Few environmentalists regarded Mr Gove as a natural soulmate when he was appointed, but his short time in office has been, on the whole, hugely impressive. 
The UK stands to lose vital environmental protections when we leave the EU. These must be replaced. We need to carry into UK law the environmental principles (polluter pays, the precautionary principle etc) that underpin policy; and we need a strong, independent watchdog to replicate the beneficial role now played by the European Court of Justice and the European Commission in holding governments to account for their environmental practice. 
There is a long way to go, but Michael Gove gets this, as he gets the need to address the rising tide of plastic pollution and the alarming erosion of soil quality. What we now need is a much stronger green narrative from other parts of government, not least on housing and transport, and an unequivocal commitment to match and then exceed current EU environmental standards.

Shaun Spiers
Executive director, Green Alliance 

Brexit is a chance to save our small farms | Letters | Environment | The Guardian

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