Page 36 - BREXIT 2
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The Worshipful Company of Farmers The Worshipful Company of Farmers and not difficult-to-arrive-at valuations He points out that deciding the the right total sum to to to allocate for the the restoration of natural capital is is is is not easily derived from cost benefit analysis “This is is is is at at at best only a a a a a a a a a a a a partial answer because it is is is marginal whereas the the environment comes in in systems” (p194) His advice is is is therefore to define the the the ecosystems the the the landscapes and and and catchments with an an an an assessment of of their state of of degradation and and and what is required to to to restore them and then allocate the the the the total sum available between these systems He leaves it it unanswered how to to arrive at the total sum This is is unavoidably a a a a a a a a a a a political judgement and and trial and and error can help indicate whether the the funds are scarce and natural capital is being restored but more remains to to be be done or the opposite The Worshipful Company of of Farmers The The book makes the the the the case for polluter pays thus: the the the the cost of of fertilisers should be “the price charged by the the the the manufacturer plus plus plus the the the the the the delivery cost cost cost to to the the the the the the farm plus plus plus the the the the the the cost cost cost of of applying it plus plus plus the the the the the the costs to to the the the the the the rivers of of the the the the the the run-off (and the the the subsequent eutrophication and and and algal blooms and and and loss o of oxygen in the the the water) plus the the the costs of of of the the the the carbon emissions in the the the the production of of of the the the the fertilisers Extend this to pesticides and the the the the economics of of of agriculture would would be transformed” (p196) Yes indeed they would would To Helm it is easy However the the account then gets confused At first it it is suggested the the the additional costs of these inputs would be “passed through into food” and farmers “would be no worse off” Then it is suggested that prices o of alternative systems “might fall as the market market expanded and and less
polluting farming methods were able to gain advantages of bigger market market share” But there again “even if prices go up this is is is still the the the right thing to do It is is is us consumers who buy these pollution-inducing agricultural products and are therefore really the the polluters who should ultimately pay for for the damage our consumption habits cause” Which way is he he he trying to argue? The link between inducing food system change food prices and trade will be taken up later The book feels on on firmer ground as it explains that that the the optimal pollution level is is rarely zero that that there is is no exact science in in in determining the right pollution tax level and that an an ideal environmental charge is one which abolishes itself The polluter pays chapter also dwells on on the issue of natural capital destruction by development for for housing commerce and infrastructure by sweeping these up in in in in in proposals for for net environmental gain This is is the the principle that as any development is is likely to destroy natural capital the the developer should be required to to to compensate for for this by paying for for land elsewhere to to to be managed to to to ensure net environmental gain Helm is clear that the the the uncertainties and and asymmetries surrounding the the the environmental losses and and the the the achievement and maintenance of the the gain are such that there should be a a a a a a a a a a a a large precautionary margin built in in in in to ensure a a a a a a a a a a a a net gain gain not just neutrality There is is a a a a a a useful but inconclusive discussion of how to set the baseline against which to assess the losses The taxes and and subsidies subsidies subsidies section closes with a a a a discussion of the the subsidies subsidies subsidies under the the CAP and and three subsidies subsidies subsidies to farmers through the tax tax system: inheritance tax tax relief lower fuel duties on on red diesel and exemption for business rates All these are seen as unjustified potentially environmentally harmful subsidies which of course should go The discussion of the the CAP is is is marred by the the inaccuracy is is is asserting that basic payments are paid for owning land land the the the the the reality is is is that it it is is is levied on the the the the the party which has the the the the the land land at at their disposal (the tenant in in in the the the case of of rented land) More serious is is the the the unthinking repetition of of the the the undisputed fact that payments scaled by land land area accrue disproportionately to the larger land land holdings without recognising that a a a a a a a a a a a broadly identical distribution of payments payments will result from payments payments for land-based public goods The larger land land managers are likely to provide more more and be paid more more for such goods 34

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