Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Small Farmers Know What Stress Means

Up and down the country thousands of farmers have stared bankruptcy in the face due to the total meltdown of the Rural Payments Agency. Its chief executive, Johnston McNeill was suspended on full pay (natch) in March due to his dire performance.

Mr McNeill was due to give evidence to a parliamentary enquiry but has pulled out because he is suffering from "stress". He should try being a small farmer for a few months then he would know the true meaning of the word stress. Shadow Agriculture Spokesman Jim Paice has hit the nail on the head with this comment...

“In the first half of this year calls to the Farm Crisis Network Hotline were 50% higher than the same period last year – an increase driven by anxiety over single farm payments. Farmers know all about stress and not only want some answers from the former head of the RPA, but partial payments by Christmas.”

I am sure the Comments section will now be littered with comments about never seeing a farmer on a bike and why should they get these subsidies anyway? Regardless of one's views of subsidies farmers can only operate within the current system and plan their budgets according to it. It's hardly their fault if the CAP is a completely mad system which we have to implement.


Anonymous said...

Apparently, according to the 'Farming Today' programme on BBC Radio 4 the other morning Mr McNeill was receiving performance related bonus payments in addition to his salary of around £100,000 per annum up to the time of his suspension. On the same programme a DEFRA(I believe) spokesman cheerily admitted that probably another 1000 or so farmers were likely to go bust this year due to the expected delays in payments.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to note that Scottish Welsh and NI farmers have all received their payments on time and without any difficulty.
The difference being that in the devolved administrations the payment system was designed by those much maligned creatures...civil servants. In England Defra chose to throw millions at the much vaunted "consultants" from Accenture. Why are Labour so in thrall to the snake oil salesmen of the private sector and so dismissive of public sector expertise?

Anonymous said...

Iain this isn't the EU's fault, France , Germany & Spain all managed to pay their farmers on time, its just that Defra hasn't been keeping accurate enough records of land ownership and then made far too many demands on Accenture's system.

Anonymous said...


I thought you believed in the free market and the abolition of the CAP? So why do farmers deserve money for being landowners then?

Anonymous said...

Another example of NuLabor and their inability to cope with the real world and it's problems.
They have tried to cover up their failings with the usual NuLabor spin & smoke screens.
But once again reality has caught up with the fanatasy world they inhabit. This time it is our farmers who have had to suffer.
This bunch of tosspots inherited a reasonably well running country. Thru their incompetancy we are almost at the level of a banana republic.
Roll on the revolution!

Anonymous said...

This man, as should all useless public servants who fail in their work, should get the private sector treatment, and then go and see what it's like at the job centre. All the parties are guilty of the same. Up and down the country, in government offices and town halls there are useless failures on full pay because the politicians havn't the guts to sack them.

The Remittance Man said...

You're right that we shouldn't criticise the farmers for working within the system, however demented and detrimental it may be.

If what Cobbett says is true I think we are seeing yet more evidence that ZanuLabour are out to destroy the yeoman class much as Lenin and Stalin destroyed the kulaks.

Looking at it from their point of view, small independent businessmen and farmers are the very antithesis of what a socialist authoritarian thinks the ideal citizen should be.

In their dream world I'm sure ZanuLabour would love to turn farmers into subsistence peasants or collective farm workers. Then the rest of the rural population could be herded into the cities where their new welfare dependent lives could be monitored much more simply by cctv and an army of state sponsored pecksniffs.

This would also have the added benefit that "The Elect" could then enjoy the countryside uninterrupted, in the manner of Ceaucescu and Honneker.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps for the next round of payments DEFRA could simply hire a helicopter and scatter pound notes across the shires - hard to see the outcome being worse, and at least the distribution costs would be under control.

More seriously, this is an example of the purpose/benefit of devolution - local experimentation can reveal better systems, which can then be adopted as best practice.

Anonymous said...

Please get Danny Finkelstein in the same studio as Shami Chakrabati. It would be the most brilliant combination.

Johnny Norfolk said...

You should hear the comments from the farmers in my area. They have been abanoned or strangled by red tape. Do you know the government uses spy satalites to check up on them to make sure they are not using the grass verges of fields for horse tracks etc.

They just love DEFRA

Serf said...

I bow to noone in my distain for the Common Agricultural Policy in particular and farming subsidies in general.

However as Iain says, the government has a duty to deliver these in a cost effective and timely way, as long as they exist.

The Empty Suit said...

Why is the Government in thrall to consultants? Because Patricia Hewitt is a former Accenture partner, perhaps? Management consultants have long since worked out that this shower is an easy touch when it comes to selling work, as almost none of them have ever worked in "proper jobs" outside of the law, single-interest pressure groups, charities or unions.

Anonymous said...

Just to prove Iain right.....I've never seen a farmer on a bike.
Seriously, the situation is diabolical and someone should be accountable. However if the guy at the top is genuinely ill through stress, then the enquiry has to be careful. Frankly, having seen what they did to David Kelly, I'd like to appear in front of a committee of MPs about as much as I'd like someone to put a drill through my head.

Anonymous said...

I have been a great fan of the Rural Payments Agency ever since I read this :

"Staff at a government agency office have been reported leaping naked from filing cabinets and carrying out stomach-churning pranks.

Civil servants are said to have had sex in the lavatories, taken drugs, used foul language, brawled in the reception area and held break-dancing contests in working hours.

Some of the goings-on at the Rural Payments Agency, a branch of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in Lancaster House, Newcastle upon Tyne, are believed to have been captured on CCTV."

Now how could you possibly not love them .All at the expense of the farmer so they have another thing to moan about. Win win n`est pas?

Anonymous said...

All farmers are rich toffs who own large amounts of land whilst hard working families are poor and live in small houses.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to urban myth farmers do not sit around drinking cider and discussing the price of butter. The ones I know (and I am surrounded by them) work 12 hour days, 7 days a week. They are enterprising and are always ready to diversify.

Many are a fag paper away from going to the wall. The same arguments apply to the fishing industry.

We have to decide on the lesser of two evils. Do you want your baby green beans flown in from Gambia and your milk from Germany or do you want a farming industry?

Do you want your countryside to be managed by loony "conservation" organisations or sold off for more housing or what?

The French don't have it right by a long shot, and they are greedy, but they do understand that farming has a value over and above pure economics: it is about the way we live and the way our wonderful countryside looks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Iain, I do feel for you having to find another guest at such short notice, I guess it will have to be someone London based.

How do you feel about inviting Robin Page along at a future date? I wrote about him yesterday, he has resigned after 36 years as an Independent councillor due to constant Government intervention and the decline of free speech. He has also stood as a UKIP Parliamentary and Euro MP, he won't be short for words, it will be a very lively debate.

Anonymous said...

I think my last post should have gone on your previous post, not sure if you can transfer it.

I've written about farmers a few times, they really are struggling and many of them went under over these late payments. This guy has no idea what stress is.

Anonymous said...

Very simply - without the payments farmers will go out of business.

This is because the purpose of the EU payments is to subsidise the price of EU produced food in certain categories.

Without the subsidies, the farmers would be forced to ask for a higher price than their competitors in the rest of the EU. It is illegal to ban movement of goods in the EU without reason - this would mean that farming in the UK would cease, and would be replaced by EU originated imports.

Abolish the CAP, and you abolish the payments.

Hey said...

Tis easy: sponge off the idiot French!

Close up the farms by buying as many as possible per year rather than sending out subsidy payments. Leave the land fallow, with only the occasional trimming to keep it ready for agriculture. Then drain the French and others who insist on subsidising their farmers.

Having the government be involved in controlling the amount and type of food produced is beyond idiocy. Bleed the socialists of the continent for all they're worth, and then return to farming once the communist system of CAP has been destroyed.

Further, it is by far better to get our food from Africa, providing them with valuable export markets and encouraging the independent small holders that are the foundation of liberty than paying a bunch of spongers in the UK. You'll notice that the largest amounts of subsidies go to industrial concenrs and toffs who maintain huge estates, with those farmers on the posters get little or nothing. Trade not aid, and all that!

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:21

Nanny Hewitt in her previous miserable existence was "Director of Research" for Andersen Consulting. This organisation became Accenture (the Global Management Services Consultancy). Andersen were rather tainted with the Enron scandal. She's done them numerous favours since, certainly indirectly by creating the "right tax and legislative framework".

Anonymous said...

If farming was so easy why is it the highest suicide rate profession, highest divorce, and no kids are taking over from dad. Farming is selling up across the country, sick of the struggle and all the regulation, operated by the Nazis at Defra who for example have three different tagging systems for cattle - causing animals much unnecessary pain.

Add to that farmers die young. All the insecticides and pesticides which people fear are affecting their food, are in tiny quantities at shop level, but are enough to give many farmers cancer, heart prblems and other lovely ailments.

Production is not only subsidised, it is also limited by EU quotas so that farmers are fucked whichever way. Only corn can be grown in unlimited quantity but our climate is not suited to growing that. Add to that, supermarkets operate cartels and any advantage from subsidies gets hoovered up by Tesco's shareholders.

The criminally incompetent Foot and Mouth interventions, made innoculation impossible in the UK - but it is standard procedure in all other EU countries. Millions of animals were needlessly slaughtered. The outbreak of Mad Cow Disease was blamed on offal. In fact it was caused by Organophosphates. British cattle had a dose four times stronger than all other EU countries by law. This caused many cancers in farmers, and caused Mad Cow. The OP's are now much reduced, and Mad Cow has vanished. All the scientists who claimed this to be the case at the time are pushing up daisies, dying in mysterious car accidents etc. The lab which claimed the cause to be recycled bone etc made millions.

You'd almost think there was a deliberate campaign to eliminate British farming.

Anonymous said...

From Patricia Hewitt's website biography

"I then worked in two think tanks until 1997. Deputy Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (1989-94); Director of Research for Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) (1994-97)."

Interesting conception of what constitutes a think tank . . .

Anonymous said...

End all farm subsidies

Free trade in food

Third world countries can provide cheap "normal" food

British farms can provide more expensive organic food

ian said...

Ah pity the poor farmer.

I haven't received my payment from the government for doing my job yet either.

Why can't they survive in the free market without subsidy like every other industry? I'm surprised to see such a dyed in the wool tory such as you, Iain, supporting this anti-market situation. Why farmers and not, for example, the car industry, or steel workers, or coal miners? Is it just because farmers are habitually tories?

Anonymous said...

So what was all that shite that that useless fucking horse faced ugly item spouted a few months ago about how th payments were a bit late but were catching up?

Anonymous said...

I'm surrounded by farmers to, different breed though, fiddling load of parasites mine.

Anonymous said...

Jim Paice. Worried about farmers. Quite right. Is this another Jim Paice or was he the same Jim Paice who was Maggie's junior minister for shipping who enjoyed orders to do nothing (a sinecure) while the merchant navy, as an industry, was quietly sunk, being no longer fashionable with Maggie's chums in the city? While city friends stripped out assets.

Anonymous said...

Seems I need to re-post this one.

Jim Paice was not Maggie's junior minister for shipping. I got that one wrong. Apologies for error. But I remember the name without pleasure. He was David Hunt's(?) winger at the Dept for Denied Re-employment in 1994/95. Not funny if you were over forty and lost your career courtesey of a city asset stripper & 'friend of Maggie'. Right, back to google. Now, who was that other bleeder...