In an age where the gap between rich and poor farmers widens by the day, and so many young people never get a chance to get on the farming ladder, this seems to me to be a fantastic principle and one that needs to be taken up on a much wider scale in our industry. Wherever possible, we must make those farmers who can afford to pay more for things actually do so. Just think what a better world UK farming would be if we organised things so that struggling young farmers stood a chance against well established farmers?
Of course, it wouldn’t be any good putting any of that into law because wealthy farmers would immediately employ expensive lawyers and accountants to find a way around any increased charges or costs (like they already walk around income and capital taxation).
No, this system would have to be administered by roving trusted experts in their field, elected by farmers, who would simply impose higher charges on rich farmers each time they tried to buy anything. Such administrators would have to have access to all aspects of farmers’ financial details including their net worth, their income, whether they educated their children privately or not, where they holidayed each year and, most importantly, what car they drove.
Armed with this information, a land agent in each county would be given authority to oversee the sale or renting of each block of land. If wealthy farmers who obviously didn’t need any more acres were foolish enough to bid for land then they would be allowed to do so but the asking price would be massively inflated. Similarly with machinery, if rich farmers decided to buy flashy new equipment to avoid income tax or simply to show off to their neighbours (a very common occurrence, I am told) then they would be made to pay list price (agricultural engineers would be strictly prohibited from offering them any discounts).
This principle would be followed through at every point where farming fat cats attempted to spend their money. Fertiliser, diesel, agrochemicals, even livestock – all would be priced much higher for the farming plutocrats. In this way they could soon effectively be prevented from expanding. The financial pressure would also be taken off smaller farmers who could hire land cheaply, buy discounted machinery and fertiliser, and even afford to buy the best livestock.
My congratulations then to the brilliant individual who introduced a welcome dose of progressive charges based on ability to pay to enter the ploughing match car park. I intend to propose my scheme that will extend this principle into every corner of agriculture to my local NFU branch. I am confident of unanimous support.