Haskins on agricultural subsidies

The former Chairman of Northern Foods and adviser to Tony Blair  has called for EU agriculture subsidies to be scrapped:

Subsidies sustain inefficiencies and encourage farmers to grow crops on unsuitable land. Without subsidies, the inefficient will have to pull up their socks or pass production to another grower, almost certainly larger scale. “Without subsidies, unsuitable land will go out of arable cropping. Either way, with less supply reaching the market, prices should rise.” Haskins supports the World Trade Organisation contention that all export subsidies and import tariffs should be wound down, and quickly. That will lead to a new, much more competitive, era. …

Every industry has experienced drastic reform, thanks to scientific and technological innovation and competition. European farmers, who have been protected from change in an unsuccessful attempt to maintain a viable rural status quo, must, in their own long-term interests, change.

The important point is that we should abolish these subsidies not only because they do immense harm to farmers in poor countries; nor even because they are expensive for taxpayers and consumers in the EU; we should abolish them because they make it impossible for our own farming industry to become competitive and efficient.

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