AT FIRST glance, the upcoming Land Reform Bill does seem fairer. At second glance, however, it may well be that landed gentry estates have provided a very cheap source of farming land, which may have underpinned affordable food prices for us all.
The Land Reform Bill, with its accompanying “right to buy” is akin to Margaret Thatcher’s right to buy council houses. It enabled millions of people to buy their house for about £9,000 and then sell it on the open market a few years later for often more than £100,000. This heralded the end of cheap and affordable housing. Could this new bill, by opening up the market, be an end to cheap and affordable farming land?
Farms have stayed in families for generations, farm rents have been fixed in secret, leading to very cheap food-producing land. All of this made it difficult for new people to enter the industry. They will probably get their chance under the Land Reform Bill, but what will it deliver for the actual price of weekly shopping? In economics, demand drives up prices.
While I am slanted towards the Yes vote, I still need more information on what this land reform sea-change might mean for the actual cost of feeding our families.