Friday, June 19, 2020

European land use, Part II

One of the quirks about the EU is that they imposed restrictions on "farms" with the intent of making small, indigenous farms economically viable.

I believe this is rooted in the justified paranoia that circumstances might arise where a city MIGHT have to feed itself from the land-base that can be serviced by bicycle/horse-wagon distance.

For example, in an effort to keep prices high, the EU took a census of the number of each type of food animal. Let's say there are 10,000 sheep in your region.

Then the EU granted each producer the "right" to have however many ewes they reported when the census was taken. If you wanted to expand your operation then you had to BUY permissions from your competitor. You had to pay him to reduce his numbers so you could raise them by a like number.

This system has some pluses and minuses.

It was great for old folks. If they had a flock of forty ewes they could lease those rights to a younger neighbor and reap the profit from their flock without having to endure the hardship of caring for them in the winter.

On the minus side, it was tough to get into the business. Not only did you have to take all of the normal business risks, you had to bench-press the additional fixed-cost of leasing those rights from somebody leaving the business. You see, as somebody entering the business, you had a zero base-number. You had to pay somebody for every ewe.

The jury is still out on whether the plan improved the stock-on-the-hoof. One side contends that the only way to improve profit is to raise meatier sheep with more wool. That pressure would cause serious farmers to improve their flocks or herds.

The other side of the argument is that sheep herders had to keep a flock of a certain number to maintain their base-number. Stop raising sheep for a few years and the EU administrators in Brussels would rescind your right to raise them. Like most people holding speculative investments, they hang onto the sheep and make the absolute, bare-ass minimum investment to keep them alive.

But the bottom line is that there are multitudes of "economically viable" farms in Europe of a size where they can be farmed with horses, small motors and human labor.

1 comment:

  1. Although I am not sure that the European model is esp bad ( Or good) I can for sure see some problems with the American model. We allow cities to gobble up farmland...wont we run out of farmland. Further , just as allowing our manufacturing base all go to China and other countries so I think it is also bad to allow most of our food production to go to only a corporate farms. I see only problems when corporations can raise or lower prices. When the people working ON the farms have little skin in the game and gradually corporate farms are run by MBA rather than actual farmers. So ? What is the realistic solution ?

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