Motion proposed to —insert Branch— Labour Party on agricultural policy:
This Branch notes that the EU’s common agricultural policy, a farm subsidy system that spends £44 billion a year, has promoted environmental destruction across Europe. Because payments are made for any land that is in ‘agricultural condition’, there is an incentive to clear wildlife habitats even in places that are unsuitable for farming. Because the more land you have, the more public subsidy you get, this system subsidises wealthy large landowners, even if they do not live in the EU. This has encouraged a form of benefit tourism by the international super-rich.
This branch/CLP notes the lack of an agricultural policy in the 2017 Labour Manifesto. The government proposes that after Brexit, farmers in the UK should be paid for protecting wildlife and ecosystems, including soil and water quality, rather than just for owning land, which would be some improvement on the present system, but this still is using subsidy as a substitute for regulation, paying out public money without achieving public ownership or any other form of democratic control of land.
The Branch calls for the development by the Labour Party of a coherent agricultural policy based on some basic principles:
- Restoration and improvement of systems of monitoring and regulation of agricultural and environmental practices, including regular inspections and better protection of sites of special scientific interest.
- Failure to meet regulatory standards to be met by compulsory purchase, replacing private with democratically accountable communal ownership.
- Urgent action to return land on which sustainable agriculture is relatively unviable to natural re-wilding to allow for reforestation, trapping carbon and restoring degraded landscapes.
- Agricultural land to be protected from use as a financial asset at the expense of its use for communal benefit (either for food or for environmental protection and diversity). This could be achieved by imposing a high capital gains tax paid on transfer of its ownership, and by including land in a wealth tax.