Friday, 25 January 2013

Do Smallholders Need Europe? Does Anybody?

David ("call me Dave") Cameron made his Churchill/Shakespeare speech on Britain's future in the EEC yesterday.  I loved the poetic imagery of draining the English Channel and the Mavis Riley (Coronation Street) :

"Well I don't really know",

Dithering of:

"IF we win the next general election, we will let the people decide whether they still want to be in Europe."  

It was a bit like a kid saying: 

"It's my ball and I don't want to play any more.

Come on "Dave" it was Ted Heath (Conservative Party) who took Britain into the Common Market in the first place.  Why not disband Parliament and have a referendum on every subject, every week?   It really annoys me how Britain wants to be in Europe, but won't join the Euro.  What a statement that makes, that the fifth biggest economy in the world doesn't have the confidence to stick their big toe in the European water and say:  

"OK we are in".

The best thing about the EEC is that it's stopped France fighting Germany for the last forty odd years since the Common Market was formed.  Farmers have received a 'Farmers Dole' single farm payment and other subsidies.  There has also been investment in Infrastructure like roads.  The downside has been the wine lakes, beef mountains, mass emigration (depends if you see it that way) and faceless bureaucrats making laws and statutes that can never be changed.  It can never be changed Dave. 

I personally think C.A.P (Common Agriculture) is unfair and it always seems to reward the big farmers and cares little about the smallholder.  What about allotment holders.  Why shouldn't they get a payment?  

So in the words of that brilliant TV chat-show host: Mrs Merton:

"Lets have an heated debate."

Should Britain stay in the EEC and if so why?


  1. He's going to let us decide is he? Only about 30 years too late, and only "when the time is right" and "if we win the next election". Does he really think he's going to entice people to vote for him and his cronies on the basis of this "promise". Does he really still believe in faries?

    The only good thing I could see about our European membership was the "free trade" ability of UK citizens to shop anywhere in Europe for unlimited best value goods.
    So as soon as we started visiting France for booze and Belgium for tobacco, they call "foul" and apply limits, with an army of Customs people to enforce them.
    They managed to stop a few sleeves of fags and a few bottles of wine getting in that were to cheer the working classes up a bit, but strange how they can't seem to stem the tide of illegal immigrants?
    And predictably, this didn't bring the cost of goods down to European prices, it had the effect of increasing European prices to nearer the UK.

    Referendum? They'd be frightened the results would go against them, so no party will ever allow us to have a say in how they decide to shape our lives.
    One bloke, was it Thompson they called him, a billionaire, formed a new party called The Referendum Party. His idea was to go to the masses with a referendum on every point of controversy. I remember seeing an interview he gave, and when asked about his partys views on anything, his answer was "We would go to referendum and let the people decide". Personally I thought it was one of the best ideas I've ever heard. He fielded a few candidates and aquired a few votes, but sadly the bloke died before he made any impression.

    There's sense in your thinking, we're in Europe but not in the Euro, suppose we should be either in both or out of both. All I know is the value of my GBP is steadily eroding against the Euro, from about 1.5 when it was first established to almost parity now, as prices in Euroland have gone up. I still can't understand why Euro countries like Greece and Spain are on the verge of bankruptcy but the Euro is so strong against the GBP?
    I believe the value of my GBP has gone dwon against just about every country in the world. Thanks "Dave"

    Should Britain stay in the EEC?
    To be honest, I'm not sure that I know any more, and I've gone past caring. We don't seem to have gained many advantages (if any) and we're still at the mercy of fluctuating exchange rates.

    Bright sunny morning, blue sky, no snow left at all, a bit warmer.
    Raggy cat put out at midnight and let in again by Mrs later on when she came to bed, she's too daft with that cat.

  2. Thanks Cumbrian for that. You put it really well. I think it's just a bit of politcal spin and a smokescreen to win the next general election.

    I wonder what all the people who fought in 2 world wars would think of Germany holding the purse strings and having the strongest economy in Europe? I think Federalisation is the hidden agenda for most European politicians. I think with the competition from Asia it's going to come down to a "them or us" situation. Europe's got 26 million unemployed people but there's relatively peace. Perhaps the EEC is the only way of keeping peace in Europe?

    I have heard (read)that farmers annual EEC payments will in future be based on them carrying out more ecological and environmental practices like growing hay, creating natural habitats, organic farming, animal welfare...? But will the humble smallholder be any better off? Hmm... I don't think so.

    Gales this afternoon. Hope my broadband is still working to communicate to the outside world. Thank God for the Internet. Thanks for your thoughts, Cumbrian. Raggy cat sounds like he's well looked after.

  3. "Political spin", "Smoke and mirrors", "Political correctness" and no doubt you can think of many more meaningless outpourings from the ones we elect to supposedly run our country.

    Over the last few years, or maybe decades, I've lost all faith in any of them, they're not to be trusted. When the last one came round canvassing in the wake of the MPs expenses fiddles exposure, I asked him about his expenses, and his offended retort was "I paid it all back". Yeah, and so did a few more, but only after they'd been found out cheating. And I don't think the amounts were a few quid for a pint or two.

    Promises that glibly issue from their lips when campaigning are more often than not conveniently forgotten about once they're elected, and if queried, they can answer by talking at length but not saying anything.

    Maybe I'm a bit harsh, perhaps they're all jolly good fellows with the best interests of their country and constituents at heart, and are able to answer a straight question without gobbledegook, the salary and expenses are secondary to their true ambition to serve?

    Funny how the big corporations and mega-rich families manage to avoid paying any (or minimal) tax, but the poor little man struggling to make a crust gets spied on at car boots for the few quid he might even mange to earn, just to feed the ever-increasing army of government officials and MPs salaries, perks and expenses.

    Ecological and environmental practices? Animal welfare? I think they're a bit too late for that, I wonder if any of them have ever actually seen battery chickens or intensively reared pork? Or understand the eventual consequences of appling ever-increasing oil-based chemical fertilisers?
    It's only the small man who bothers about those things, and he's usually over-looked.

    Keeping fair but clouded in.
    Raggy cat asked to go out, seems to be wandering its little domain.

  4. You're right Cumbrian. The small man gets overlooked. There doesn't seem to be any political party that cares about ordinary people.

    I wonder when the EEC will announce the day when all farming goes organic? I am dreaming aren't I? The oil companies would never allow that.

    Gales blowing here for next few days. Cattle inside eating straw. Glad I bought some more. Can't see the weather ever improving. I talked to somebody yesterday and they agreed that climate change is happening.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  5. Yes, of course you're dreaming.
    All farming goes organic ? I doubt if some of the exponents of "organic" and "eco-friendly" understand what the meaning of the words are ?
    Like you said, "organic" vegetables from Israel in their very own shrink-wrap plastic ?

    Farming won't REVERT to organic until the oil runs out, when that happens they might finally realise they can't eat money. Then the little man will have a say, there'll be an awful lot of them.

    All political parties care about the ordinary people, but only on the run-up to voting day.

    Got rough last night, wet and windy, stopped raining today but still cold overcast and windy.
    I agree the seasons seem to be getting very confused, and a lot of people I speak to think the same, the weather's throwing some strange surprises at us.
    At least the cattle are happy inside with plenty of straw.
    Raggy cat found a new bed on the settee, sleeping just as soundly. Haven't had a mouse for months, is Domino bringing mice to you yet?

  6. I think that's what gives the 'organic' brand a bad name. There is so much contradiction and inconsistency with the farming regulators in Europe. How can you have organic and chemical farming? I have sampled organic meat and vegetables and they are superb. I also think mountain grass sheep and cattle fed on just grass (Brasil) would be very similar if not organic. Organic is nothing new. Also organic vegetable and fruit growers use tractors that emit pollution so again there is inconsistency. I also find if I want any organic advice or information I have to be a member of an organic body or pay to go on a course. If I can afford to be chemical, I just go to the farm centre and pay for what ever I need.

    Been very rough here the last 24 hours. More gales tomorrow. Still no signs of mouse activity, Cumbrian. So Domino must be doing his job in the farmhouse.

    Talked to a tractor mechanic yesterday. I asked him how he would 'free' a ceased engine or 'dead' tractor. He said that all you do is soak the parts in diesel for a week or so then give them some gentle persuasion with a sledge hammer. Anything can be restored - brilliant optimism.

  7. Biggest stumbling block for organic produce is cost. I bought a 6-pack of organic free-range eggs today, they were reduced from £2.20, which is about 4 times the price of standard eggs. Mrs won't have anything but free-range eggs, she's very concerned about the conditions the battery hens are kept in.
    I suppose anything labelled organic must conform to certain standards and practices, as well as the costs involved in belonging to whatever club you need to join and complying with their dictates.
    And lots of people have probably never tasted real fresh produce, everything is steralised to death in the name of Health & Hygeine. I read somewhere that about 30% of some crops are ploughed in because they don't conform to the supestores idea of perfect size, shape and colour.
    The nearest we're likely to get to organic is the allotment, the allotment gardener can't usually afford the expensive chemical fertilisers, so they rely on compost and fym when they can get it, usually horse manure from the stables around here, and seaweed from the shore. But you're honoured to get any of their produce, it's for home consumption.
    Sad really, it's not that many decades ago when everything was organic.

    Yes, I can admire the optimism of the sledge hammer technique, worst that can happen is you break something, and it doesn't work anyway, but you might be lucky and get it going again, the old hard pieces of machinery are usually a bit more forgiving than the modern ones.

    Raining again, windy, but not too cold.
    Nice to hear Domino's earning his keep, Raggy cat is back on the settee, seems to prefer it now for some reason. Nobody sits there anyway, so it's welcome. It's eating well, rolled lamb breast for dinner today, Mrs left a bit so Raggy cat gets it.

  8. Yeah the organic produce cost is very off putting and a lot of people view it to be only for 'right on' and middle class people. I admire you wife's stance on the free range eggs. Free range can never compete with the battery hens in the broiler houses.

    I try to be a 'natural' smallholder using just a few worming drugs and a bit of granulated bag lime on the fields. We also 'try' to grow a small plot of vegetables with fym. That's the idea any way.


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