Financial Planning & Investments: Charles Stanley Wealth Management
Farming is essential for our survival, and the need to provide a level of food security necessarily requires excess output. As a general advocate of free markets and allowing price signals to balance supply and demand, in the farming industry there has always been some form of central planning. I recall news reports of ‘butter mountains’ and ‘milk lakes’ in the EU from the late 1970s, as a result of its interventions to increase production via the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Whilst such excesses caused much criticism, from a humanitarian perspective, this was a far better outcome than the shortages and famine, which make all too frequent appearances in our history, whether due to natural events or man-made actions.
Technology is now opening up a vast array of opportunities for those who were not traditionally connected with agriculture. Farming in warehouses, with clean conditions and no reliance on the weather, offers the prospect of efficient production close to the marketplace. We could have real meat being produced without animals, and we already produce all sorts of non-meat alternatives.
Ensure you eat well
Exciting as these new opportunities are, should we also be focussing attention on ensuring what we eat is healthy, nutritious and sustainable? Heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes are now putting significant pressures on our health services, despite such conditions being virtually unknown in our ancestral past. Is it possible that the move toward increasingly processed forms of food could be bad for our health? And if it is, are we happy to leave it to multi-billion-dollar pharmaceuticals businesses, to provide statins and anti-obesity drugs to counter these modern diseases?
Might a return to more natural ways of farming be good for our health? Mixed farming, traditional crop rotation including livestock, worked pretty well for the majority of the UK’s farming history, offering a more sustainable way of maintaining nutrient rich soil, versus monocropping, which relies on more chemicals.
UK farmers currently face the biggest upheaval to subsidy payments as a result of Brexit. Whilst there appears to be plenty of money for ‘wilding’ the countryside, smaller animal producers can no longer operate viably to compete against intensively farmed livestock. As a result, the availability of nutritious produce with far superior animal standards is being lost. Is it possible we could use the subsidies to support ‘natural’ sustainable farming practices and improve our health too?
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Mark Hinds is a Senior Investment Manager and Branch Manager at Charles Stanley Norwich.
Contact a member of the Norwich team to discuss any of the themes raised in this article or to find out how Charles Stanley could help you create a more secure financial future.