Magazine article The Spectator

Get on with It

Magazine article The Spectator

Get on with It

Article excerpt

armers - go forth and diversify! It is, if Tony Blair is to be believed, the answer to all your problems. You can try organic farming, although the money for the organic conversion scheme has run out. You can run GM trials, for the brief period before the crops are destroyed. You can plump for an unsubsidised industry like pig farming, currently doing worse than almost any other area of agriculture - or we can just stop farming altogether.

Farmers can make really big money growing a concrete crop of houses. But don't start counting your cash before you've got planning permission, which, in the vast majority of cases, will be denied you. The government doesn't want you to have to operate within market forces all the time. It may, therefore, be more profitable to look to stately-home owners for inspiration and open your place to the public. Outside you can create a petting zoo putting aside any worries about the cost of insurance that will have arisen since a child died after contracting E.coli during a visit to a toy farm.

Inside, your wife can be set to work in the kitchens of the rather small, damp home that could soon be a bed and breakfast. It will be difficult if you are used to living a solitary life, have large debts and are over 50, as many of you are, but so what? The time has come to stop whingeing and just get on with things. Mr Blair and his ministers have, after all, made many useful suggestions. In addition to those above, they cite the possibility of starting up riding stables. Many of you may have noticed that the numbers of such establishments have been drastically reduced since business rates were imposed on them, but perhaps you'll succeed where so many more experienced people have failed.

If, by mischance, you go bust, are not a tenant farmer and don't live outside the London pale, you can always sell your property to a yuppie with a large bonus to dispose of. …

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