The Cautious Revolution: Britain Today and Tomorrow

By Ernest Watkins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
Agriculture

Of all major industries, agriculture has undergone the greatest transformation during the last ten years. The description "Cinderella Story" is, for once, apposite; save that the Prince Charming is rather a blurred figure in the story, and some of his methods have been remarkably crude. But the Labour Government can lay no claim to being the Fairy Godmother. What it has done amounts to no more than a strenuous effort to prevent the clock from ever again striking twelve. Aided by world affairs, the clock for the farmer is certainly still some way from midnight, if in fact it is moving at all.

What does a farmer in Britain get, in terms of money, out of being a farmed? Information on the financial results of farming is hard to come by; farmers tend to talk about their losses freely enough, but keep the conversation well away from details during those times when they are doing well. But over the years, some facts have been extracted by various institutions.

It is easy enough to record the changes in the prices of farm products. The following are the average prices in Britain of certain prime commodities in 1931 and in 1947 and 1948, the low and the high of the price curve for farm products.

CommodityAverage price for the year
1931 1947 1948
s.d.s.d.s.d.
Wheat (per cwt)5.9.1911238*
Barley (per cwt)810241277
Potatoes (per ton)1331811020111†
Sugar beet (per ton)42411121088
Fat cattle (per live cwt)44118911988
Fat sheep (per lb. deadweight)1111122
Bacon pigs (per 20 lbs deadweight)1133110351
*This price includes a government subsidy in the form of an acreage payment.
†Provisional figure

-151-

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