My favourite reporter, Charlotte Smith, was on the BBC Farming Today programme early this morning talking to a lamb exporter. He was worried that the EU may impose a new 40% tariff on our sheep and lamb exports.
I wept for the man.
Years ago, let’s say in the 1960/70s I bought lamb from Covent Garden, our major meat market in London. I’m sure I paid under £2 for half a lamb.
Today lamb s the most expensive meat we can buy in the UK. The exporter revealed why: we export 40% of our sheep and lamb meat to the EU. That us rising rapidly, our exports last year are up by over 90%. Australia appears to be the loser, as they have seen a drastic fall in the value of their exports.
It can be seen that the increased value that a few exporters gain from our wonderful British lamb is really coming from our own pockets. Lamb is now an expensive meat. Why? We grow enough animals. Not when we export 40% of the product.
We have got to realise that we can only export the excess of our food products. For the country it is cheaper to grow and consume than to buy, or sell, abroad. Exports only help a minority of people.
I remember a time when it was normal for folk to enjoy a Sunday dinner. Roast meat with all the trimmings. Pork, chicken, beef and lamb were all affordable. The lamb was often there because of our admirable cousins in New Zealand. You may recall how they suffered when the EU imposed tariffs upon their imports.
Well folks, it is about to happen again. We must refuse to export at high tariffs, instead offer such food to our own people. We have allowed ourselves to believe that all foods are always available. That’s not really true without importing, and we buy in abut 60% of our foodstuff now.
You don’t need thousands of acres to become a farmer. A windowsill is enough to produce food (just a little) You’ll need more but keep it local, eat what’s best at the season of the year. Don’t use chemicals, there’s lot of better ways.
I’ve now got an allotment. It wasn’t easy, but that’s a short story that can wait. I have a photo, taken on my phone, but for some reason my phone is not recognised by my cmputer – is this an anti-Chinese plot?
Anyway, I have five rods of land. The rental is a a few bob more than I’d pay to rent an acre of land but that’s what local Councils do! Five rods is enough land to feed an old man (I hope). It’s enough to keep me busy, that’s all I require.
It has about two-thirds covered in black sheeting – that’s killed off the weeds but encouraged mice, snails and insects of various kinds. I started on the bit not covered in black plastic – and dug up a few weeds. The soil was dry, but looked OK. I planted a few squash seedlings, all of which have taken, and one now has four healthy offspring. I pushed a lump of concrete under these three to keep the slugs and snails away. That may work.
Planted a small row of supermarket potatoes, but they haven’t appeared, so I presume they are F1 hybrids. Incidentally a state in the USA, OK it’s Michigan, says it is illegal to grow vegetables in your front yard (they don’t yet call them gardens, but then they call soil, which provides life for us all, ‘dirt’).
Hopefully in the Spring, if the virus will allow, the Suffolk Potato Fair will take place in February. The organisers of this annual Potato Fair at Stonham Barns are doubtfully keeping an eye on http://www.eapd.btck.co.uk/ It’s a great event, usually having 80 or more varieties, and you can buy one of each, if that’s what you want and can remember. It’s great fun to try out varieties.
A favourite are Sarpo, https://potatohouse.co.uk. You will not find these in a supermarket. They do not conform! Sarpo Axona (whites) and Sarpo Mira (reds) are blight resistant. Do you hear me Northern boyos where it’s always wet? They are blight resistant!
I lived in Catalonia for a number of years. My Catalan neghbour argued with me about planting spuds. Ferran said you should cut up each tuber to leave just one sprout. I disagreed. We did agree to test the dispute, and divided a four-acre field in two. He planted his half Catalan fashion, and I planted my spuds whole, having laid them out in trays, and allowed them to chit (sprout) before putting them in the ground. Chitting gives them a good start.
We had the wettest Spring for many years. Ferran’s plot was in the West of the field. It was there I first spotted the signs. The spuds showed early signs of blight.
It was a disaster. I left harvesting what I could of my crop until the next day. It was too late. I felt sorry for the Irish, who suffered terribly from Blight in 19th Century, starting around 1845 Phytophthora infestans attacked the potato, upon which poor Irish people relied. One million died and many more emigrated, most to unknown lands in North America.
That was one of the many periods of British history when the ruling elite need to reflect seriously upon their guilt.
Picking up what appeared to be a decent potato it was heartbreaking to push it in with your thumb to find the whole potato was black, a slimy mess.
During this time the English landowners increased the exports of meat and butter, peas, beans, rabbits, fish and honey from Ireland to England. It was shameful.
It’s hot now. I went to the allotment midday, and was so glad I did. The squash were all wilting. I threw buckets of water at their roots, and I’m now hoping all is well.
Pulled back a small part of the tarpaulin and sowed some mustard seed, which I hope will act as green manure by the Spring.