The Waveney valley has got some superb land for dairy cattle – but the dairy industry is in crisis and over the last few years several local farmers have had to give up their dairy herds.
The problems started in the 1980s when the EU introduced milk quotas – setting limits on how much milk each farmer was allowed to produce. The rules were designed to keep tens of thousands of tiny French farms in business – farms that had only 2-3 acres and 1-2 cows. The EU paid subsidies to keep these uneconomic tiny farms going – which led to a vast overproduction of milk – called ‘the EU milk lake’.
To tackle this problem they themselves had created the EU imposed quotas on all farmers, including the much larger and more efficient British ones. These continue to cripple our dairy industry. To be fair, the EU is not the only problem here – supermarkets driving down the prices they pay farmers is also a major problem. But the EU is major contributor to the crisis, not least because the overproduction its subsidies create allows supermarkets to drive down the price farmers get, with many farmers now getting paid less per litre of milk than it costs them to produce it.
We need to set our local farmers free to do what they do best – which is to produce top quality food and drink.
The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy has produced a bureaucratic system that is every farmer’s nightmare. The EU pays farmers grants for farming in a supposedly environmentally friendly way – including ‘not farming’ a certain percentage of their land (that’s those very large corners of fields you see unploughed!). But to get those grants – our local farmers have to submit mega-complicated forms online – with poor – or in some cases non- existent rural broadband connections. If they get one bit wrong they can get huge fines.
We can do better than that on our own – with the UK government setting up its own much simpler system.
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