Thursday, May 28, 2009

After MPs... will farmers be in the frame?

The MPs have done wrong with their expenses and the Daily Telegraph has created a scenario which has caught everyone's imagination, and doubtless enjoyed healthy sales as well. So what happens when the dust settles? Will the nation's population just get on with their financial difficulties? Or will they, and the media look for another sector which benefits from the public purse?

If farmers and landowners were picked on in the same way, how robustly would their stand be? Have they the moral high ground, can they justify the payments they receive? Last week Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg mentioned the Common Agricultural Policy in the same breath as 'structural reform'. Will others take up the same theme? Farmers might well be advised to prepare for a siege - and then a rainy day.

Major cutbacks to present payments would hit the smaller working farmer badly, for many find the income from crops or livestock products such as milk barely cover their outlays. The large estates, which have useful economies of scale, might be better able to cope, but only by shedding labour and cutting costs further. All farmers find much value in their copies of Practical Farm Ideas.