söndag 24 februari 2019

Will Brexit destroy British farming?

Will Brexit destroy British farming if it is not protected? Remainers say it. The National FU says it‒but then it would, wouldn’t it? The leading Brexit economist, Minford, has said it. What is the truth of the matter?

Agricultural rents are in the range £50 to £200 per hectare. Faced with a general fall in farm gate prices, the worst land, by definition marginal land, goes out of agricultural use and rents of all other land must fall. The cut-off point comes where rental values drop to zero. This is standard Ricardian theory.

Some agricultural land will obviously go out of its present use, but the questions are how much, and what other uses will replace them? I have not seen any analysis of the problem, neither by Brexiters or Remainers. In the absence of any sound analysis, all there is on both sides is blind speculation.

The apparent dearth of well-publicised and solid information is a mystery. The calculations are not the kind of thing that can be done on the back of an envelope, but many of the country’s think tanks and academic institutions, including both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, as well as the NFU and DEFRA, have the resources to do the work. When making forecasts of impending disaster, there is no excuse for not producing supporting calculations which would give an indication of the extent of the damage.

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