Farmers Weekly Big Debate gets farmers thinking

Farmers Weekly has sparked controversy with its Big Debate question: Have the past 50 years left a good or bad legacy for UK farming?

So far two-thirds of respondents have voted that it has left a bad legacy but there’s plenty of time left for you to have your say.

The question has prompted some interesting debate on the FWiSpace discussion forums about the impact of agricultural subsides and whether there are generational differences in opinion.

Sarah Long said she had gone for a “bad legacy” because subsidies had allowed some farmers to continue, yet if they were operating in other industries they probably would have failed or needed to change to continue.

“Lack of change is one of the factors that are holding back progression in the industry,” she said.

The aged clun, who also voted for the bad legacy, said it was probably not the past 50 years that had caused this situation, but the last 10 years of red tape.

“The political attitude towards a sector that produces vital commodities has diminished and belittled our role over the years to mere park keepers to be controlled and regulated at every turn.”

Stuart Meikle said that he would have preferred to debate what were the most valuable lessons learnt with respect to going forwards.

And he said that the arguments put forward for the removal of subsidies were clichéd and full of misconceptions.

“What I think we are now seeing is the first signs of serious resource shortages biting at the global level and this will inevitably lead to governmental concerns over food availability (for the last 20 years they have been dictated by food safety issues, predominately as a result of ill-informed tabloid journalism and a still unresolved debate over BSE).

“I think one can be pretty sure that the government response will be more not less involvement. Hence what I think we should be debating is not the idea of living in a World market without ‘subsidies’, but living in a World where government is going to be setting a new set of goals.”

Colin B said farming did have a future as there was a younger generation with enthusiasm and energy.

But he added: “In 50 years we have become good farmers with poor marketing plus farmers are not good at putting their argument to the general public.”

What do you think? Join the discussion on the dedicated Big Debate forums thread.

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