30 SEPTEMBER 1938, Page 18


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR] SIR,—Your article on " Food and Defence " expresses once more a warning that cannot too often be repeated, and it may well be that the knowledge possessed by the Government in regard to our food supplies may have had a decisive effect on their attitude during the present international negotiations. On the other hand, it was announced the other day that Ger- many, thanks to the proper development of her resources, had achieved a bumper harvest and now had a two years' supply of wheat in hand, which is being stored in the towns and villages throughout that country !

At present we produce considerably less than half of our requirements ; while various experts have calculated that, if we so desired, we could produce up to 8o or 90 per cent. of these. It is, then, not only food storage, but even more vitally food production which should be made a permanent part of our defence. And yet, still the workers on our country-side are decreasing at the rate of nearly one thousand a week, and still land is going out of cultivation and deteriorating, while many of those engaged in the production of our most vital necessities are facing heavy losses as a result, the while all parties connive at the unfair competition to which they are subjected. Is it not time, and over-time, for the reorganisation of British Agriculture to enable it to play its proper part in the life of the country both in peace and war? The simplest method of attaining this end appears to be the fixing of Standard Prices for all agricultural products, based on a fair wage for the worker and an assured return to the producer. Farmers are today, surely, the only section of our business community who are forced when they wish to buy, to ask : " What must I pay ? " and when they sell : " What will you give ? "

Criticisms of the Government's policy in international affairs appear to be rife today ; should not the criticism be levelled more fairly at its neglect—and at our own neglect— of our national heritage, and of our basic and most vital line of defence—the Fields of England ?—I am, Sir, yours, &c.,


Hon. General Secretary, Rural Reconstruction Association. 35 Gordon Square, W.C.1.