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009. Do you enjoy paying for your food twice ?


No, I didn't think you would, but that is what you are doing.

For over forty years I farmed sheep on the Lake District fells.

Over the last ten years I, and other farmers, have been asked by the walkers we meet, "Where have all the sheep gone and why are the fells getting overgrown"?

We explain to them patiently that it is due to the various environmental schemes, that it is being done in their name; to protect the environment.  We, the farmers, are being paid, by the taxpayer, NOT to keep livestock.

"But, that is ridiculous", they say.  "What are the benefits"?

"Well, the fells have become a serious fire risk because we aren't encouraged to manage them. In the valley, on and around the farm, the ring ouzel has disappeared, no lapwings nest, a curlew is a rare visitor, nearly all the chaffinches have gone, the greenfinches don't come in the late summer, and some of the wildflowers have already been smothered by the long grass.  A great success."

So I, a taxpayer, pay you not to keep livestock and then I pay again for the replacement, possibly imported, for me to eat?

That's right, and it is not just in the hills.  The arable farmer is also being paid not to cultivate good land.

Richard Mawdsley (now retired) July 2010

2 Smallends, Donnington, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 2HY
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