An Economist leader says one of the Brexiteers’ boasts is entirely right: Britain really ought to be able to come up with better agricultural policies outside the EU.
Other claims have been rubbish. Contrary to their assurances, Britain will not soon be signing a trade deal with America. The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which the Brexiteers said would not be a problem, turns out to be a big one. Britain will probably end up letting French and Spanish trawlers into its waters.
Regarding farming, though, it can hardly do worse. The common agricultural policy (CAP) which Britain leaves on January 1st after 47 years, has been a lousy deal for the country.
At considerable cost to the taxpayer, it has subsidised intensive farming methods that have denuded the countryside, causing more ecological damage than climate change. Since 1970 the population of nesting farmland birds has been cut in half.
Tariffs have raised the price of food. Some farmers have benefited from subsidies. But others have not, because the subsidies are capitalised into land values, raising the cost of getting into farming.