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Opinion - Is the Government betrayal of steel reflective of the agricultural industry?

With national media attention focusing on the future of British steel, FG editor Ben Briggs asks whether that sector is being betrayed by Government in the same way agriculture is.
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Watching steel sink

"There are times when a crisis in another industry reveals many of the same issues agriculture faces at its current low point.

 

"The debate about the future of the British steel industry and Tata’s desire to offload its loss-making plants sees much of the rhetoric employed in relation to farming echoed in another sector.

 

"The Government’s line that it is committed to the future of British steel production and does not want to become beholden to foreign imports was enough to make even the most cynical agriculturalist choke on their New Zealand-reared lamb.

 

"It beggars belief Ministers can come out with such statements when, in reality, they seem more than happy to let free market economics reign and the boost this gives to aforementioned cheap foreign imports.

 

"You only have to look at the dairy industry to see the impact of this policy. Or beef and sheep. Or pigs. Or even grain.

 

"You also have to question whether politicians really care about many of this country’s industries until they become a political football lobbed across their desk.

 

"Only when it is too late do suited and booted Ministers such as Business Secretary Sajid Javid, central to the steel furore, arrive at protests to announce their support for a sector.

 

"What would be much more useful for steel and agriculture, which directly employs more than 15,000 and 480,000 respectively, would be proactive Ministerial backing before they lurch in to the throes of disaster.

 

"Sufficient attention from the outset, recognition of dysfunctional supply chains and targeted aid where it is needed are crucial if industries such as these are to thrive, not just survive.

 

"And while much discussion has been given to the impact on the local community in Port Talbot if its steel mill goes bust, where are the headlines about the impact on rural communities if hordes of dairy farmers leave the industry?

 

"Steel’s plight is a warning farming cannot afford to ignore."

 

- Ben Briggs, editor

April 8, 2016

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