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A little laughter

Some time ago Graham Wood sent us an amusing letter in the hopes that we would dramatically expand the amount of humour on our site. We have been dilatory in doing so, but hope to supply a bit of the deficit today by quoting the letter he sent us.

The letter was addressed to a gentleman in the current government who has moved on to higher things than the mere "environment" of Britain. He has a global gleam in his eye now. No doubt his successor at DEFRA will be responding to the many polite enquiries from the farming community that his predecessor failed to answer, including this example.

Nigel Johnson-Hill Park Farm, Milland, Liphook, United Kingdom

Rt Hon David Milliband MP
Secretary of State
Dept of Environment. (DEFRA)
Nobel House. 17 Smith Square. London SW1P 3JR.

Dear Secretary of State,

My friend who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the “not rearing pigs” business.

In your opinion what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

As I see it, the hardest part of the programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven’t reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is- until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.

If I get £3000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6000 for not rearing 100?

I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I would expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradeable carbon credits for all those pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don’t rear?

I am also considering the “not milking cows” business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current DEFRA advice on set-aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?

In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits. I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.

Yours faithfully,
Nigel Johnson-Hill

Thank you, Graham, for sending us this delectable and defiant epistle.