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German strawberry fields

Mark Mardell | 11:35 UK time, Monday, 2 June 2008

Panorama Farm certainly deserves its name. The farmhouse overlooks the gentle green slopes of Baden in southern Germany - the sort of landscape urban dwellers dream of visiting at the weekend. Angus cow

Beautiful it may be, but it is not exactly land for planting wheat or other big-money crops. It's mostly pasture and I can just about make out the pale white of Charolais and the black flanks of Aberdeen Angus cattle in the distance. In one corner I can see the farm's latest enterprise, a field of pick-your-own strawberries. The two Fellmann brothers are examining the crop with satisfaction - deep luscious red. I can exclusively report they are delicious.

It's a family farm and the Fellmanns have been farmers for at least three generations. But should European policy-makers let the farm stay in business? Or is it - and thousands of farms in 27 countries - unwittingly damaging farmers in poorer parts of the world?

Thomas and Johannes Fellmann clearly like each other and get on well, but sharply disagree when it comes to farm subsidies. They look different too, and no wonder. Johannes, the older brother, is tanned a dark brown by the sun and the wind. He's obviously out in all weathers, looking after his strawberries and cows. Strawberries


Thomas is pale, and although he started out helping on the farm he now spends most of his time lecturing or behind a computer at the University of Hohenheim, half an hour's drive away in Stuttgart.

Johannes says he need subsidies to survive. "I wouldn't call it a subsidy. It's payment for services we provide. We need compensation here in Europe and in Germany in particular, because we have high environmental standards which make production considerably more expensive than in other countries. And there are food standards we have set out in law, so we depend on these payments."

But Dr Thomas Fellmann doesn't agree. He has studied the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the last 10 years and his thesis was on the direct payments scheme. He says it is good the farm is diversifying into crops like strawberries, because they make a profit on the open market. He thinks with high food prices everywhere now is the time for EU policy-makers to cut the aid, not least because of the damage it does in the developing world. Fellmann brothers in field

He says: "It's hard to explain to them. Behind every farm there is at least one family and if they are affected it is a problem. They might say 'Hey, what are the people in the third world to do with this? How could we affect them?' But they do. What you export is your surplus, so it is dumped, sold cheaply on the world market. If we do that in the long run there is no incentive to farmers in the developing world to grow more, to enhance their technology to grow more. And they can't produce enough food in these countries."

Thomas has been telling me with affection about his father, how he is meant to be retired but is always out working on the farm because there is always something to be done. Dad is a vigorous man in his seventies who clearly enjoys mucking in with the hard physical work.

But Thomas says he can't use his family to justify a bad policy. "In general I don't like subsidies. If farmers can't make a living then they have to leave the sector. This is hard for the farmers, but it doesn't make sense to give them money and go on with that support if they still can't make a living out of farming.

"Of course personally it would be very hard for my brother, indeed for me, it would hurt me, if they had to close the farm. But if they cannot make their living out of farming they should close the farm."

While we talk two pretty little girls - Johannes's two- and four-year-old daughters - come out to look curiously at the funny men with cameras piling into the strawberries and pretzel the family have generously provided as a midday snack.

Thomas adds: "The worst thing that could happen is that one of his daughters will run the farm just because they get subsidies. You could go on like that for generations and it's very difficult to stop."

Johannes replies: "I am interested obviously in what goes on in the third world and we have to take it into account. But I have my own family to feed, so it's important to me too that we make ends meet here."

It is likely that the policy of European politicians, despite the efforts of some in the Commission, will be "charity begins at home".

Comments

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  • 1. At 12:20pm on 02 Jun 2008, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    I suppose that in the interest of fairness (sorry, that's rather Utopian...), if farming subsidies are dropped, we should expect the same level of quality (testing and all) from non EU goods, after all, the Supermarkets (that rip us off constantly) don't differentiate in their pricing...

    I'll stick to local goods though.

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  • 2. At 12:49pm on 02 Jun 2008, Buzet23 wrote:

    Hi G-in-Belgium,

    Quite so, there are excellent local farms producing meat and vegetables where I live in my small village in Belgium and I know several local butchers as friends. I'd rather trust a farmer, butcher whose known in the locality that any supermarket. Remember the dioxin scare in the late 90's that was solved in only six weeks (um), that was down to sharp practices and pollutants in the cheap food given to the Chickens. Local producers eat the produce themselves so they seem to be a bit more careful.

    I'm also noticing an increase in the availability of local artisans these days who visit local cafe's etc to sell their wares.

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  • 3. At 1:56pm on 02 Jun 2008, chris smith wrote:

    JUST LIKE THE EU A TOTAL FAILURE

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  • 4. At 2:24pm on 02 Jun 2008, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    Thanks for that amazingly insightful and eloquent comment Jaws. I have now seen the light and will be moving to the utopia that is Nottingham to live on 32 pounds a week and have my head kicked in by skinhead football fans.

    Sheesh.

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  • 5. At 2:43pm on 02 Jun 2008, DutchNemo wrote:

    Small family farms like Panorama Farm indeed need subsidies from Brussels to compete with Third World countries. The possible loss of these small farms would be a shame. However, in my opinion they would be perfectly able to compete with Third World countries if they, together with other small farmers, merged into a larger Joint Venture or Strategic Alliance.

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  • 6. At 2:50pm on 02 Jun 2008, VedranCro wrote:

    This case is worth noticing as there are numerous such farms, especially in new EU states. In my country, Croatia, agricultural policy is the biggest problem of EU laws. Traditionally, our farms are small, divided between families, and hardly can be comparatively competitive to other European countries. It seems it is quite a big problem and it bears huge social consequences, especially in smaller counties.

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  • 7. At 3:04pm on 02 Jun 2008, betuli wrote:

    Re5

    "The possible loss of these small farms would be a shame"

    DutchNemo,

    Explain to me why this would be a shame... or is it just a romantic idea about rural way of life?

    Strawberry fields forever?

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  • 8. At 3:05pm on 02 Jun 2008, Windsor11 wrote:

    Loosing family farms also means loosing open space, a rural community and local land management. There is more to farm subsidies than food production. I moved to northeastern US and land is being lost to development and urban sprawl at an alarming rate, what was a rural community 10 years ago is now a commuter traffic jam.
    It is worth paying to keep local family farms, we should not dump our over production outside the E.U. (export duty) but we should require the same high standards from our imported suppliers.

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  • 9. At 3:06pm on 02 Jun 2008, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    #5

    Totally agree, DutchNemo. That's how Luxembourgish winemakers have survived. There's also the consumer who plays a part. I'd much rather invest in an auxerrois from Stadtbredimus than California.

    This may appear small minded, but I'm more interested in the health of my local economy than the third world.

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  • 10. At 4:10pm on 02 Jun 2008, one step beyond wrote:

    Good report Mark, very balanced.


    In response to some posters here about subsiding farmers perhaps the E.U. should also subsidise post offices as their closure is effecting small communities. Perhaps they should subsidise car manufacturing as their closure is effecting large communities. Perhaps they should have subsidised coal mining as their closure obliterated whole communities.

    Or perhaps, just perhaps people should realise no one owes them a living and you sink or swim in terms of how efficient you are. Why should some one earning minimum wage be expected to pay inflated costs or subsidies to enable small farmers to continue in the same way they have done for the last 100 years.

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  • 11. At 4:30pm on 02 Jun 2008, DutchNemo wrote:

    betuli,

    ''Explain to me why this would be a shame... or is it just a romantic idea about rural way of life?

    Strawberry fields forever?''

    The last one. I'm affraid the loss of small farms will lead to largescale monoculture, which would ruin the countryside.

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  • 12. At 4:59pm on 02 Jun 2008, Chris wrote:

    We should help the farmers! The EU depends on its energy on other nations, it should also depend on other nations for its food. With so much hunger in the 3rd world I can't see how there is no market for the excess food that 3rd world countries produce! It can't be both, i.e. we are making too much and want to sell some and its too expensive and we can't afford to buy it so we are hungry!

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  • 13. At 5:10pm on 02 Jun 2008, gwyddeles wrote:

    In this part of northern Spain most small farms seem to be subsidised by other members of the family - as well as whatever they can get from Europe. But if they didn't grow crops and graze animals, we would either have wilderness (OK, but not to live in) or maybe golf courses.

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  • 14. At 5:34pm on 02 Jun 2008, Wolfie wrote:

    The only reason that European farms cannot compete is because of political interference in the market, principally that standards of hygiene and production methods are enforced here but not in all markets.

    This balance will tip once again as the oil supplies run dry and transport costs become prohibitive towards a globalized food market. When that day comes we will all be relieved that subsidies kept these farmers in business.

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  • 15. At 5:53pm on 02 Jun 2008, onwisconsin wrote:

    I am a firm supporter of subsidies to keep small, family farms in operation. I wish we had more and fairer policies here in the US.

    There are mulitple social benefits to maintining local farmers beyond those to the farmers themselves which justify public investment:
    (in no particular order)

    * Providing a check to urban sprawl:

    I don't know how big of a problem this is in Germany, but in the US, there is a seeminly inexorable pressure to bulldoze further and further out from city centers in pursuit of cheaper housing and, frankly, money for developers and realtors. I have commonly heard here in Wisconsin that the best way to preserve open land is to use it. Economically viable farms in active production serve as a barrier to the outward growth of urban areas. By making sure that the land is worth more in agricultural production, we can help convince the next generation to continue farming.

    * Local food = more secure food:

    By keeping food production closer to high concentrations of consumers, we can prevent shipping disruptions due to rising fuel costs and natural disasters.

    * Environmental protection:

    Small-scale agriculture tends to be better for the environment than other land uses (excepting, of course, leaving it wild). As long as proper environmental regulations are in place, farming is a positive alternative to suburbs and golf courses.

    * Biodiversity:

    More, smaller farms means more crop varieties and more cultivars of the same crop. In Wisconsin, we have a lot of smaller producers who are maintianing (and selling at a premium) "heirloom" varieties and propigating their own seeds form year to year. Just down the highway in Iowa, the landscape is dominated by the larger, corporate producers growing identical strains of GM corn and soy (I'll admit we have our fair share of them here in Wisconsin, too) and virtually nothing else. When the Monsanto version of potato blight hits our feed crops, I'll feel much better knowing that the three major growers of sweet corn in my area all have different varieties in their fields, so at least one should be resistant to whatever new strain of pathogen comes along. Iowa, on the other hand, will be a wasteland.

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  • 16. At 5:53pm on 02 Jun 2008, frenchderek wrote:

    We need the small, family farms, as DutchNemo has argued. However, they are not the ones who are getting the big, fat subsidies (tho' they are more likely to become organic).

    The ones who get the big money are the monster monoculture, prairie-style "farms" that are, in truth more like food factories. Many are owned by non-resident investors and large companies. What they don't recover in subsidies and sales is shown as a loss on their Balance sheets and set off against other investments. Good to see the CAP supports entrepreneurship!

    If the EU were able to ensure that subsidies went only to the family farms then the CAP would cost a lot less I suspect.

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  • 17. At 6:22pm on 02 Jun 2008, Eastvillage wrote:

    "But should European policy-makers let the farm stay in business?"

    Having just visited Baden, I think this arrogant statement should terrify every citizen of Europe and the US.

    Central Europe has very little wild land to speak of, only the rural farm regions detailed in this story.

    Losing these farms will open the door for more de-humanizing sprawl, development and pollution.

    Our world is unsustainably over-populated and open, green spaces like these are being destroyed at an alarming rate.

    “Policy makers” in Europe and the US need to start protecting the interests of their own citizens.

    Nature has an inestimable value.

    Wild places and open spaces are the only thing left sustaining life on planet Earth.

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  • 18. At 7:11pm on 02 Jun 2008, one step beyond wrote:

    Seems to be a number of issues here. The two main ones appear to be the desire to maintain a way of life and the second to maintain the country side.

    I do not wish to be hard hearted but the first is not my problem and has little sympathy with people who live and work in unprotected industries.

    I have more sympathy with the second and farmers and other owners of land should perhaps be encouraged to maintain it. This should not be anything to do with the E.U. and if a country wants to use it's tax payers money to achieve it, then fine. But do not ask tax payers in other countries to pay for it.

    The U.K. has few very small farms relatively speaking, on the whole they are efficient and well run medium to large farms. The countryside in the U.K. is beautiful and diverse. This is partly to do with farmers, partly to do with strict planning legislation in green belt areas, partly to do with the National Trust, partly to do with the Forestry commision etc etc.

    I suppose what I am trying to say is that we should not think that the only way we can maintain wonderful countryside is to spend money subsidising small inefficent farmers. Different countries may need to find different local solutions to maintaining the countryside. We certainly no longer need the centralising tendency of the E.U. in this area of business.

    Leave it to the Nation state, region and county to manage this.

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  • 19. At 7:23pm on 02 Jun 2008, chris smith wrote:

    10 reasons not to like the EU

    1. They are destroying the royal mail

    2. They want to kill the pound off

    3. they dont listen to public opions

    4. want to create a united states of europe

    5. want to replace the uk driving liecense with a EU one.What up with the uk one ask Gordon.

    6. They want to close down anti EU organisation from entering the EU parliement. ( loss off democracy)

    7. They have crippled the uk fishing fleet

    8. they have crippled the uk farming industry

    9. The EU is totally undemocratic

    10. The Eu is the next soviet union in the making

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  • 20. At 8:21pm on 02 Jun 2008, Joao Coelho wrote:

    People have to stop treating farming as an enterprise and instead as natural resource. The problem is that we have grown accustomed to fertilizers that sap the soil and create cancer, in order to over produce. Farming is not a business, or at least it should not be. We farm because we need to feed ourselves and others, but if we treat farming like a business we will end up without either, no farm and no business.

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  • 21. At 8:22pm on 02 Jun 2008, Buzet23 wrote:

    Well said #14 The Two Wolves and #16 Frenchderek,

    The small farm whist not being the greatest money earner to a large entrepreneur is becoming more and more important as external regions hold us to ransom. It is apparent that more and more surviving small farms should look inward rather than to exportation and quite frankly why not. I am fed up with the bs about third world Africa etc, when they get their act together and control the endemic despots and tribal wars then maybe I will be more sympathetic, but until then it is a farce if the EU destroys it's own agriculture to benefit countries or regions that don't merit our help. I don't like subsidies but buying locally, yes, yes, yes, and it's time the absurd CAP quota rules were updated to encourage more local production/sales.

    BTW, many farms in the old part of the EU are owned by whole families due to the forced inheritance laws which dictate that children must inherit if they so accept. Consequently this explains why if you buy a plot of land for building the list of owners is mostly very long, and also why if a farm goes bust it affects not just the farmers direct family.

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  • 22. At 8:27pm on 02 Jun 2008, Old-Man-Mike wrote:

    Every developed country in the world supports farming in one way or another. The most heavily subsidized in the world are Japanese rice farmers. I have no problem with this. Nor do I have a problem with the USA and the EU supporting farming. This is particularly true when aimed at avoiding rural depopulation. Try telling a Welsh hill farmer or a Cornish dairy farmer that they are inifficient. He will treat you politly as not knowing any better though he would probably feel like getting out his shotgun.

    Agro-business provides porducts for supermarkets and food processors at a price, quality on a scale and consitancy of supply which is impossible by even middle size farms. I am all for small and part-time farmers supplying local markets and farm-gate sales, even if I live in a country that exports thousands of tonnes of strawberries to Germany every year.

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  • 23. At 8:40pm on 02 Jun 2008, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    Dear Mark,

    Please could you do something on European policing and the goings on in jails in the "EU". It is not as nice as standing in fields eating strawberries.

    I have frequently read and heard reports of despicable policing and of disgusting goings on in jails in "EU" countries and in Turkey.

    My sources are German and Austrian news media and continentals living in the UK. A number of French people have told me how awful their police are as have Germans and Italians. The reports of police brutality in the Wiener Kurier and on the Austrian radio website are very disturbing. They indicate that some Austrian policemen are fascist thugs and that the people above them do not take it seriously enough. They do however indicate that Austrians in general want something done about it. I have seen no indications that the Italians practically are going to do anything about it.


    I do remember reading a report in the now defunct "European" that there were reports that ETA members were repeatedly beaten in Spanish jails. I would like to know if that is true.

    The rules of engagement of continetal policemen seem to be totally unsatisfactory. As I understand it if they tell you to stop and you don't, they can and will shoot you. Not good news for somebody with hearing problems!

    This is even more disturbing since there have been attempts to get powers of arrest for continental policemen in the UK.

    I view this tendency to fascist policing as an example of the fundamental tendency of continentals to fascism. It alone is one reason why we should not be in a political union with the continentals.

    Unfortunately we are.

    I need to know

    1)if any continental police are allowed ever to directly arrest people in the UK.


    2) if they have immunity from prosecution.

    3) if they would get charged in their own country or ours if they behaved in an unacceptable way.

    4) if they behave in an unacceptably violent way and a British person resists with violence, would that British person get charged? And then would that British person get charged in this country or theirs?
    .
    5) if our rules of engagement would apply or theirs.



    Large numbers of continentals living in the UK have told me how awful their police are so there is no point in some "EU"-lover telling me it is all prejudice.

    British police also go on holiday on the continent. A number of those have told me of their contempt for continental policing.

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  • 24. At 11:08pm on 02 Jun 2008, pcapozzi wrote:

    This a brutally complex issue and one of the key problems of our time. Your coverage of this is disappointingly simplistic. The BBC is capable of much better than this.

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  • 25. At 00:30am on 03 Jun 2008, freddyfrier wrote:

    I think we should produce as much food locally as possible and our laws and tax system should support this as much as they can -in the third world and the rich west. This makes us more directly connected with the food we eat and it's easier to check the quality and methods of production (as you would be physically closer to the producer and could actually see the farm if you so desired). In addition it's better for the environment as we do not have to transport Australian beef to Denmark or Danish bacon to Japan (fuel, cooling, etc). It is a complex issue, but I believe if we localise as much as we can, we will see an improvement in the quality of the food we eat in the West and an increase in the food produced in the third world. Food should not be mass produced in factory-style farms but by smaller farms like the Fellmann farm and we should support this as individual consumers AND society.

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  • 26. At 03:51am on 03 Jun 2008, Austreader wrote:

    Australia is not a third world country and our government doesn't pay farmers to grow food. If they can't making a living out of farming, obviously they have to sell up and do something else.
    But of course, we can't compete with EU produce because it's so heavily subsidised.
    However, I must admit I too have concerns about buying some foods grown overseas. I recently noticed frozen vegetables from China, I'm not so sure with their environmental record I'd buy them.

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  • 27. At 08:47am on 03 Jun 2008, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To SuffolkBoy2 (23):

    Maybe you should ask Jean Charles de Menezes what he thinks about police in UK. Oh, I'm sorry, he can't, his dead.

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  • 28. At 10:13am on 03 Jun 2008, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    suffolkBoy,

    though I fail to see what your post has to do with the CAP, strawberries, moo-cows and beets, it's still better than what Jaws has to offer (I believe Jaws is a spam/automated alter ego created by Mark to spark debate :P)

    I think nobody is particularily pleased with police methods anywhere in the world, but this has nothing to do with the EU. Every nation's Police is criticized, urban legends spew forth like a badly digested curry. Policing is viewed as a government's tool of opression rather than a much needed public service. I don't believe this to be true as such. There are some very pleasant, level headed officers out there, unfortunately, they are the minority... But all police get a rough ride... it's a pretty crappy job. The French CRS have a reputation for heavy handedness, but don't forget, they take orders...

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  • 29. At 10:51am on 03 Jun 2008, Buzet23 wrote:

    Hi G-in-Belgium,

    Thankfully the Gendarmerie in Belgium are a new breed with many young recruits since the merger of Police and Gendarmes, as you may recall the Nivelles gang ("Les Tueurs du Brabant" or "les Tueurs fous du Brabant") who were a group or groups thought to be responsible for the massacre of Brabant, a series of violent attacks that occurred mostly in the Brabant-province from 1982 to 1985 and resulted in 28 deaths and over 20 others injured. It was before I arrived but still talked about in Nivelles and the guess was that it was Neo-Fascist Gendarmes from Brussels.

    But you're right, this has nothing to do with the CAP, strawberries, moo-cows and beets. I am a firm believer that for local producers the over bearing rules and regulations of the EU need to be relaxed, as if not you will see an ever increasing rise in local private unregulated sales which means an even larger 'black' sector.

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  • 30. At 11:42am on 03 Jun 2008, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    Hi Buzet, I'd forgotten that old chestnut; which still hasn't been elucidated? Never will be I suppose. Wasn't that the time when the Gendarmerie were threatening to strike over pay and stuff? (I'm a bit young to remember, to be honest).

    Either way, although subsidizing private companies is a very sad state of affairs (Northern Rock anyone?), it can't suddenly be stopped. It would have to be phased out gradually otherwise eveything will be shared between Carrefour and Tesco's and a ham sandwich will consist of Bread baked in Guatemala, packaged in Canada with a slice of tasmanian pork, salted in Russia, pumped full of water in Mexico and packaged in the Congo at the very modest price of 25000€ with an olive being a luxury option. Kraft are already taking over the world with their "used to be tile grout" Cheese.

    Ok, maybe I'm exagerating a little bit... :)

    I'm all for the "black" sector; it forces regulatory bodies to think (except maybe in Belgium, where they just invent new taxes)

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  • 31. At 11:46am on 03 Jun 2008, chris smith wrote:

    Q. what is the ultimate goal of the EU

    A . A federal Europe which will be controlled from brussels destroying the true cultures of europe and bringing to an end the independence of ever EU nation who is a member.The word the want to get rid of is independant member states.They just want the one.

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  • 32. At 12:05pm on 03 Jun 2008, Buzet23 wrote:

    #31,

    I think you should revise that slightly, it's not so much that the concept of the EU is bad but more rather it has been hijacked by a breed of mostly failed has-been politicians who believe in Federalism at all costs. Were the unelected parts of the EU to contain elected personages who have not arrived there because of 'buggin's turn' then we might see an improvement, especially if the EU parliament actually had the power to do something more than just refer back. As it is it's regrettable that the only thing that seems to happen is implementing more and more onerous directives that are partly responsible for the Food crisis and lack of solution we're discussing here.

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  • 33. At 1:51pm on 03 Jun 2008, Buzet23 wrote:

    Hi G-in-Belgium,

    I really like your description of a modern Ham sandwich, you only thing you left out was the mandatory slime called Mayonnaise, and as for kraft's rubberised cheese, Yuck!.

    You're also right about Belgium taxes, Reynders invents taxes that tax the tax that taxes the tax. I guess like you that we'll happily (for us) see an increase in the 'Black' local sector across many trades including farming produce as the higher taxes go the more people try to evade them. If this does increase the black trade from 1 in 2 to higher (old estimate) then maybe eventually operating any form of business will get less onerous and expensive due to the punitive regulations and taxes.

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  • 34. At 06:48am on 05 Jun 2008, powermeerkat wrote:

    Now, about this shortage of cow milk in Germany.

    Perhaps it could be replaced with camel milk?

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  • 35. At 1:44pm on 06 Jun 2008, need4reality wrote:

    "It is likely that the policy of European politicians, despite the efforts of some in the Commission, will be "charity begins at home"."

    As was always going to be the case. That is to ensure food security.
    We must however stop perpetuating problems with actively disruptive foreign policy.
    If you 'appoint' a dictator in an impoverished nation, s/he will use food as a weapon.
    It happens EVERY single time.

    World markets paying the rice producers in Thailand a third less for their crop than last year is something which is unsustainable. Will they be paid less next harvest?

    If producers are paid less, consumers charged more, you get discontent and hunger.

    You make record profits for the Minuscule Minority though.

    Save the Milk and Strawberry farmers of Germany and also stop starving the worlds poor.
    They are trying to scare the EU farmers by saying cheapen-up (presumably signing your livlihood away to Monsanto) or the starving people of the world will under-cut your prices (if we don't let them starve).

    Keep our protectionist agriculture and stop actively encouraging starvation in foreign populations.

    Be nice.

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  • 36. At 6:54pm on 08 Jun 2008, jacksforge wrote:

    34. At 06:48 am on 05 Jun 2008, powermeerkat wrote:
    Now, about this shortage of cow milk in Germany.

    Perhaps it could be replaced with camel milk?

    how witty little kitty but serious do you see camels in germany(other than zoo's and cigarettes.

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  • 37. At 04:37am on 09 Jun 2008, BrightonStevie wrote:

    To JordanBasset (no.10).
    You're right. Nobody does owe us a living, we need to look after ourselves. This means we would be very foolish to stop subsidising small farms wouldn't you say. The thinking behind this has been stated several times in the above posts, so I shall not repeat it again.

    To Jaws
    Thankyou for underlining the intellectual bankruptcy of certain segments of UK political "thought". But that's quite enough drivel for one comments session, thank-you very much.

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  • 38. At 08:52am on 09 Jun 2008, lacerniagigante wrote:

    Subsidies to farmers should be replaced, gradually, by a kilometer-tax whereby a product becomes more expensive in proportion to the distance it has to cover from production to consumption, especially if air-freighted. The same should apply for fridge-time and space. This would make "dumping" more difficult and would encourage local consumption. Kenyan strawberries in EU supermarkets are not helping the Kenyans as much as you'd like it, as many anti-CPA people purport. In fact, the proceeds go into the hands of multinationals (unless you have some fair-trade labels, and even then...) and all the Kenyans get is more exploitation.

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  • 39. At 2:37pm on 09 Jun 2008, powermeerkat wrote:

    "do you see camels in germany(other than zoo's and cigarettes."


    I see plenty of camels in Germany, almost as many as in Netherlands , although not as many as in sweet France.

    [Have you been to Marseile and Toulouse...lately? :-)]

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  • 40. At 8:38pm on 09 Jun 2008, one step beyond wrote:

    Re post 37, Brighton Stevie, no I do not think we should subsidise farmers. However if the people of the U.K. want to through the British Parliament so be it, but I object to the decision being made in the E.U.

    Subsidies, especailly in the form many on this forum would like to see will result in the most inneficient recieving the most subsidies. The end result will be many farms that are too small and very innefficient. I obviously feel sympathy for the farmers concerned, but it is for them to do something about it. They could specialise in high quality food and get a premium price for it. That is fine and I wish them the best of luck. Just do not ask people living on minimum wage in a tower block in Gateshead to pay for their life style.

    Greater efficiency will result in better harvests and more effective use of land. If Europe wants to have food security that is the way to go. Not to go back to a medieval peasant farming economy that could barely feed a population a hundred times smaller than the current one.

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  • 41. At 2:23pm on 11 Jun 2008, powermeerkat wrote:

    Now, 'bout them French wine producers...

    Should EU tax American, Australian and South African wines even higher?

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  • 42. At 01:00am on 12 Jun 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    those strawberries in the blog...look so good...problem is i am allergic to a point to them.

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  • 43. At 06:25am on 24 Dec 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mark,
    Nice story; you should have put up a picture of strawberries....

    --Dennis Junior

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