There are so many things wrong with this Express article and misquoted IEA article, I decided to write a special debunking blog post about it. How Express readers in one line can be told that wages of UK farm workers will go up and in the next food prices will go down is anyone’s guess. So we must start banning seasonal EU workers picking UK crops after Brexit, while in another line this paper promises this golden future for UK farmers. Are they to pick these crops themselves after brexit or let them rot in the fields? UK farmers now facing competition and reduced farm gate prices set by mega farms on different continents like New Zealand, Africa and the Americas? How could UK dairy farmers possibly compete with mega dairies with tens of thousands of cows milked by robots in New Zealand? We haven’t even mentioned the 20% lower purchasing power of the pound, which pushes up the retail price of the 40% of our food we have to import from abroad or we would starve.
The best way to tackle this deceit is probably to analyse and rebuke each nonsense Express statement line by line using block quotes:
“BREAKING free of the EU offers an “unrivalled opportunity” to halt “staggering” food price rises, a detailed paper revealed today.”
Well of course neither the words “unrivalled opportunity” or “staggering” appear in the 44 page actual IEA report. Express lazy hacks pick that up from an accompanying press release where some of the Institute’s high brows talk up a newly published report, that they probable haven’t even read beyond the management summary themselves. Note that the actual report itself in a nutshell says that by using EU banned pesticides in combination with genetically modified crops UK farmers could increase yields. This is of course a mute point if UK consumers refuse to put that kind of toxic crap on UK tables.
“The IEA study by former NFU chief economist and Government adviser Sean Rickard described the Common Agricultural policy as the EU’s most expensive at £360 billion between 2015 and 2020.”
Of course this has nothing to do with food prices. The bulk of this EU money goes straight in the pockets of farming UK land owners. This in turn allows them to balance their books. Except if you are a part of UK’s aristocracy, then it goes straight on your bottom line. Many small to medium farmers simply would not survive without this single farm subsidy, meaning they’d go out of business and we’d have to import a larger proportion of the food we all consume from abroad. This in turn would negatively impact on our balance of payment deficit and food security. Remember it’s not farmers that set farm gate prices, supermarkets do! They pay more for bottled tap water than milk in some cases.
“He put the cost of complying with EU regulations at £590 million a year in England alone – and stressed that this “significantly underestimates” the true cost of regulations.”
Again this would only impact on food prices if a Brexit UK would abandon all farming and food related regulation altogether after #brexit. Given Westminster’s propensity to gold plate any regulation that comes out of Brussels, there is more chance that UK Farming regulation would be more severe rather than more lax after #brexit. Another non-argument in other words. This argument also misses the point that much of this regulation nowadays comes from supra national bodies way above EU level like UNECE. It’s a totally false bonkers argument. Do we really think UK farmers should be able to spray on their crops whatever they like after Brexit? And we would all just swallow it? I think not!”
In a London speech Mr Clegg, now the Lib Dem EU spokesman, claimed that if the UK quit the EU single market in a “hard Brexit” there would be “turmoil” in the food and drink industry. He predicted a 59 per cent levy on beef, 38 per cent on chocolate, 40 per cent on New Zealand lamb and 14 per cent on Chilean wine.”
Note that without warning the Express article has now switched from food imports into the UK to food exports from the UK to the EU. What Clegg says is correct only in the context of exports to the EU. Such tariffs would not influence prices for UK consumers of Scottish Angus steak, Welsh lamb or McVitties Hobnobs. The Clegg statement is there only to confuse and mislead Express readers. Suggests to them beef would be 59 per dearer, 38 per cent on chocolate, 40 per cent on New Zealand lamb and 14 per cent on Chilean wine. After brexit this would be true if we re-exported such stuff to the EU mainland. After Brexit UK could decide to scrap these EU tariffs. But this ignores the ironic fact that for instance New Zealand currently has a large tariff free export quota to the EU which it hasn’t fulfilled in years! Also it appears Chile has an FTA with EU. No EU tariffs on its wine! This had even Dan Hannan fooled! I have blogged about this previously here.
“Brexit can and will lead to lower food prices.
“This will be especially beneficial to people on lower incomes who have to spend a proportionately larger amount of their income on food – despite what the elite London-based politicians would like them to think.“Once again, Brexit will be a victory for working people over the establishment.”
This is of course the biggest bullshit story of the entire brexit campaign. We all know that Britain, as a densely populated island nation, imports at least 40% of the food it consumes. This foreign food has to be paid for with a currency that has been devalued by some 20% since Brexit. That means, once their currency hedges have been exhausted, importers have to pass these costs on to supermarkets and supermarkets pass them in turn on to consumers. Note that these higher prices take a few months to trickle through as supermarkets and suppliers try to dampen the shock. We have seen the first signs of this effect with marmitegate.
“Migration Watch cited a report by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board which said that following restrictions on migration “wages are likely to increase in an attempt to make jobs more attractive to UK nationals”. Working conditions should also be improved. Migration Watch said that these rising wages could in turn encourage investment in mechanisation which would increase efficiency.”
OK what are they really saying here? Note that this has nothing to do with the IEA report anymore. Just a chance to throw some anti immigration sentiments in the daily poisonous Express propaganda mix. “Working conditions should improved”, not “will be improved”! Here we have pure conjecture by a dodgy pressure group. I would argue when cheap seasonal labour is withheld from UK agro-businesses they could:
- a) Let crops rot in the field
- b) Bribe unemployed Brits with higher wages to take the place of thousands of East-Europeans, which would lead to higher shop prices, not lower if they can find them?
- or c) Invest hundreds of thousand in mechanisation, which would mean fewer employment opportunities in the agricultural sector
What it would not achieve is lower prices of fresh fruit and veg in UK shops, that’s clear!
NFU Director of Policy Andrew Clark “Regulation based on emotion and sentiment rather than evidence has been something that farmers have been wrangling with for many years.
“It’s the reason why the NFU’s role in highlighting the impact of Brussels and Westminster regulation on farm has been so important.
“Brexit has many unknowns attached to it in terms of regulation, and a lot of it will depend on the trade deals that UK Government negotiates.
“The EU single market is the UK’s biggest trading partner, and we are calling for access to this unfettered by tariffs and non-tariff barriers. What this access will mean in terms of regulation is undecided. And so any impact on food prices is anyone’s guess.”
All I have to do is point out the NFU conclusion, which goes totally against the Express headline: “any impact on food prices is anyone’s guess.” I rest my case. Nothing in this Express article is what it seems or purports to be. The report quoted is mainly about food standards, animal welfare, the environment, use of pesticides and GM crops. What is said about the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a best a side show, an exposé how it once was. It ignores how much it has improved. It sidesteps the issue that the alternative of EU regulation is not ‘no-regulation’. UK consumers are possibly even more sophisticated than many in the other 27EU countries. The idea that we would abolish all these EU regulations completely is grotesque. There is a higher chance that Westminster would egg them on and gold plate them.
As one twitter friend commented: