(What he doesn't say is oil seed rape is one of the GM crops that Monsanto et al are trying to sell)

Private Eye - 16 May - Down on the Farm by Muckspreader

Anyone driving through the countryside lately may have found it hard to miss that annual reminder of the wondrous benefits of the European Union;  the splashes of garish yellow indicating land put down to oilseed rape.

Last year 750,000 acres of rape were grown in the UK to make vegetable oils and cattle feed.  Both the pollen and associated pesticides have been widely blamed for causing allergic reactions in people and horses.  By the crop is so marginal it would be uneconomical for farmers to produce it were they not showered by Brussels with 371 euros ( £239) for every "hectare" they grow. This means that, for the privilege of last year paying our UK farmers £76m to grow what economists call "an artificial crop", UK taxpayers had to give 150m to Brussels in the first place, so that the rest could be handed out to more deserving recipients in other EU countries - such as the peach growers of Greece who receive tens of millions of euros a year from EU taxpayers to bulldoze their unwanted (and probably non-existent) peaches into the ground.

Another joy of rape is that farmers are permitted to grow it on land for which, under EU "set-aside" rules, they are otherwise paid £239 per hectare not to grow anything.  The purpose of set-aside, for which UK farmers were last year paid £150m to take 1.5 million acres out of production, is to reduce the EU's agricultural surpluses.

"Large" farmers must set aside more than a tenth of their land (at a cost to UK taxpayers of £500 per hectare) to grow nothing in this way, while for "small" farmers this is voluntary.  And if you want to know the difference between a "large farmer" and a "small farmer", the EU works this out by a formula based on the area of land "needed to produce 92 tonnes of cereals using the yield factor applicable to the payment rate";  so that a "small farmer" is "one who claims on no more than 15.62 hectares, that is 92 tonnes divided by a yield factor of 5.89 tonnes per hectare".

A farmer with set-aside land can thus make a double profit by planting it with rape, so long as this is not used for food.  Rape oil can be used to make what is called "bio-fuel", loved by the greens (although it takes more energy to make the fuel than the fuel itself generates).  To complete the logic, although the EU lays down that set-aside rape must not be used for food, the by-products of turning it into fuel can be used for food.

Anyone awed with admiration for the Einsteins of Brussels who worked all this out, might also note the additional rules stemming from what is known as the "Blair House oilseeds agreement", between the EU and the USA.  This laid down for the EU a "Maximum Guaranteed Area" for oilseeds, covering 5,482,000 hectares.  In addition "payments to producers had to be cut by 1 percent for every 1 percent by which the area of oilseeds receiving 'crop specific' aid payments exceed the MGA, less the greater of 10 percent or the current percentage of compulsory set-aside".

In the end all that matters is that this helps explain why, every May, vast tracts of English countryside are covered with bilious yellow, from a crop which farmers wouldn't dream of growing unless we all handed over £500 per hectare to Brussels in the first place, just for the joy of looking at it.

Muckspreader