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Why is the Government Paying Farmers to Stop Farming? Inside the UK’s “food security” report.

Kit Knightly

On November 29th, the British Parliament’s cross-party Environmental Audit Committee published a new report on “Environmental change and food security”.

The timing of the report is more than interesting, considering the UN’s COP28 summit published its own “Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action” (which the UK signed) just two days later. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

The report claims – amongst many other things – that we…

need to adapt our food and farming system to become more resilient to the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss.

This is actually an inversion of the usual argument. The standard line is that we should change our eating habits to prevent climate change (the report still claims this too), but now we are being told that we must change our eating habits or climate change will cause us to starve to death.

Just like the push to change climate into a public health crisis, inverting this argument is about creating a sense of threat, about scaring people. It’s always about scaring people.

But, you’ll be pleased to know, while the reason we need to change may have altered, what we actually have to do remains the same: Eat less meat. A lot less meat.

The report repeats, countless times, the Climate Change Committee’s recommendation that the UK “reduces its meat and dairy consumption by 20% by 2030, and by 35% by 2050”

In a blatant rhetorical trick, it tries to make this figure into some kind of compromise by pointing out that some of their witnesses (eg. noted lunatic George Monbiot) advocated eating zero meat or animal products of any kind.

The report is full of this kind of manipulative language.

For example, on page 48, the authors claim that “the Government does not believe it has a role to tell people what to eat”, but then proceed to quote testimony from “experts” who tell them they have a responsibility to tell people what to eat (even though they really don’t want to).

Sue Pritchard argues people aren’t informed or sensible enough to make these decisions, while Professor Tim Lang essentially argues what we eat is chosen for us anyway:

Everyone thinks they choose their diet. We don’t, actually; we choose it by race, by class, by family, by gender, by culture, by when we were brought up, by the power of advertisers and their expenditure. Nearly £1 billion is spent on advertising food in Britain and it is overwhelmingly the ultraprocessed foods that get that advertising. There is very little advertising, let alone national guidance, for eating more appropriately.

“It’s OK to tell people what to do because choice is an illusion”. Beautiful.

The whole report is basically 90 pages of this kind of sophistic nonsense. If you’ve got a strong stomach and a lot of free time, you can read it all here.

We’re just going to focus on the “recommendations” at the end.

There’s this one…

The Government must show its leadership by upholding standards for the environmental impacts of food production in its trading relationships with other countries.

…which, loosely translated, means charging more import taxes on foods that aren’t “environmentally responsible” (or some other buzzphrase). This would mirror legislation in the EU, where the “Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism” has been in place since earlier this year.

Of course, the unwritten consequence of this would be higher prices for ordinary consumers. Oops.

Then there’s this one…

The Government’s plans for a strong food curriculum in schools should include science-based education about the environmental impacts of food production, including food waste.

Which doesn’t need to be translated. It’s about indoctrinating – sorry, educating – children.

Or this one, promoting diet-related propaganda:

We recommend…that the Government should publish national guidance on sustainable diets

And there’s this one, which is my favourite [emphasis very much added]:

The Government does not want to tell people what to eat BUT from its plans to encourage people to eat more healthily it clearly understands its role in helping people make better choices.

Other recommendations call for more “Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs)” to limit fishing in some areas of the sea as well as lowering maximum yield limits.

Still more suggest “sustainability ratings” being made a mandatory part of food labeling, and it’s not hard to see how rating all food purchases on a “sustainability” scale can be parlayed into social credit systems or the like.

Another includes a demand to “designate food security a public good”, like education, infrastructure, and national defense (which I imagine would grant some more powers under some act or other).

It goes on and on.

So, for anyone keeping score at home, the report recommends…

  • Using taxpayer money to create and distribute anti-meat propaganda
  • Educating children that eating meat is wrong
  • Publishing “government recommended diets”
  • Controlling where people fish and what they are allowed to catch
  • Using taxes to raise the prices of foods that are “bad for the environment”

Don’t worry though, “the Government does not believe it has a role to tell people what to eat”. Honest.

The truth is it goes well beyond simply telling people what to do. Perhaps the most concerning issue in the report is the much-praised “Environmental Land Management” schemes, described as:

a critical lever in incentivising a shift towards achieving food security in the context of environmental change

Here’s how they work…

Environmental Land Management schemes pay farmers to do certain things with their land…including to improve the environment”

You’ll notice it says “including” to improve the environment, not only to improve the environment. They never say what else is included, or what it might be in aid of.

Also, “Paying farmers to do certain things”? That’s very vague, isn’t it?

What exactly are these “certain things”?

Well, there’s a short list included but it doesn’t get much less vague. It mentions:

  • “undertaking certain environmentally beneficial actions”
  • “activities that support local nature recovery and meet local environmental priorities”
  • and“long-term projects that support landscape and ecosystem recovery.”

All of which can be fairly accurately summed up as “not farming”.

Yes, the British government is actively paying farmers not to farm, and – in truly Orwellian fashion – are doing it in the name of “promoting food security”. (You can read about similar schemes in the US and UK here.)

It goes beyond “telling people what to eat”, into the realm of making sure they don’t eat at all.

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