Politics - The future of Lincs farmers

My wife, Jan and I visited the Farmers Auction at Market Rasen Race Course last weekend and marvelled at the different items for sale.

They ranged from, what I would call; scrap to almost new tractors and farm equipment, all covering some few acres of land. There were a large number of people there and someone, not us, had nailed a VOTE FOR JOHN SAXON, UKIP, board to a post so, being in a canvassing mood, we stood by the board and chatted to a number of people and gave out some UKIP pledge cards.

The response was quite incredible, some 65/70% of the farmers we spoke to were very supportive and we came away feeling quite elated.

However, this morning, carrying out some serious canvassing in Marshall’s Yard, Gainsborough, we were approached by a chap who declared he was a farmer and that he had every intention of voting for UKIP. He followed that by saying, “but you probably won’t get in because there are a lot of Conservative Farmers in the area.

He explained, with some sorrow, how he had recently had to dispose of his milking herd and was now reliant on cattle on a mixed farm. I said “Yes, with milk at 89p for 2 litres at most supermarkets it’s a wonder any dairymen are making money”. “We’re not”, he said “We haven’t made money for years”

So, I decided to put pen to paper and outline some of what the future holds for Lincolnshire Farmers in the EU and what alternative there is.

The first problem many farmers face is the subsidy they are paid is in Euros. With the Euro high it is a bountiful harvest but … with the Euro dropping like a stone farmers are unable to budget and having had their rates set in September they now have to struggle on for a good few months to see what will happen. UKIP’s alternative is to pay subsidy in ££’s sterling per acre at approximately the same rate as farmers were getting before the Euro devalued.

The EU is currently re-assessing pesticides, from a safety point of view, and are considering them as hazards, rather than assessing them from a risk standpoint. This means that many of the pesticides farmers use on a regular basis will be banned within the EU. UKIP’s solution is to revert to risk assessment to allow for better yields.

One of the more insane proposals the EU have is in the reduction of CO2 emissions by fitting all tractors with pipes that ‘bury’ the exhaust gases under the soil. This will reduce emissions, until the next time you work the land when they will all re-enter the atmosphere. Neither UKIP, nor any other party, can offer any solution to this form of bureaucratic lunacy whilst ever we are an EU member.

The EU is considering the further reduction of allowable nitrate levels in the soil. This is a proposal that is highly unlikely to please most Lincolnshire Farmers. UKIP propose raising allowable Nitrate levels in the soil according to proven scientific research.

The EU is considering the banning of split holding: i.e. not allowing Organic and Traditional farming on the same farm, it’s all or nothing. This would mean the end of much organic farming in the UK and, whether we agree with it or not, organic farmers are the people who will discover the natural pesticides and insecticides that we may well need in the future.

Proposed EU legislation will almost certainly make the Grain Futures Market unworkable and the threat of it has probably destroyed any chance of a Milk Futures Market.

Finally TTIP, The Transatlantic Trade Partnership with the EU, will certainly change free range egg production, since it is market led. Americans regard free range eggs as white, washed and waxed, whereas the UK consumer sees a free range egg as brown and unwashed. The likelihood is that, should it come to fruition, TTIP would mean free range egg producers would have to replace their flocks with hens producing white eggs. This would allow European caged egg producers to sell their brown, unwashed eggs into the UK, which could possibly be mistakenly seen, by the consumer, as free range.

Farming is becoming more bureaucratic and less about producing food for the nation, the same as policing and the NHS. The EU regulations on selling cabbages are contained in a document of some 38,000 words, a tome worthy of Shakespeare himself.

Calendar recently interviewed a Farmer in the Fens who said that the he would suffer if we were to come out of the EU. However, farming in West Lindsey does not rely on cheap casual labour, in the main, and therefore I believe staying in the EU can only do more damage to our local Farming Community.

When I first moved to Lincolnshire over 50 years ago I was told “You’ll never see a farmer on a bicycle”. Well now I can say that I didn’t see a lot of Range Rovers at the Farmers Auction in Market Rasen last Saturday!!

John E Saxon

UKIP Parliamentary Candidate for Gainsborough & West Lindsey