Agricultural Marketing Policy


    UNDER this head, Mr. A. N. Duckham, research officer to the Bacon Development Board, made a weighty contribution to the discussion on "State Intervention in Agriculture", which was held in Section M at the British Association meeting in Nottingham. In his view, recent marketing legislation is the offspring of the researches and inventions associated with the names of Liebig, Mendel, Faraday, Pasteur and others, and of the necessity for rectifying the imbalance between agriculture and manufacturing industries. The protective measures adopted by the marketing boards have helped to save British agriculture from chaos by reducing, through price stabilization, the speculative nature and insecurity of 40–50 per cent of home production, and by prompting improvements in agricultural business methods. Other beneficent activities of the boards have been the laying down of minimum quality standards the standardizing of trade practices, and the institution of good market-intelligence services. Equally important have been the provisions made for controlling competition, for example, by limiting the number of sugar-beet factories, creameries, bacon factories, potato merchants and cattle markets. The savings effected by cutting out surplus capacity and operating the remainder at full load should, it is stated, reduce the price spread between farmer and consumer; and farmers should benefit by the practice of collective bargaining, which is one of the main objects of the Marketing Acts. A noteworthy feature of current policy is the statutory attempt to influence demand by 'consumption steering', that is, by means of differential prices and subsidies to consumers, by education, habit-changing and direct publicity. So far very little has been done in this direction, but, in the author's view, the success of current marketing policy will be largely governed by steering consumption more vigorously towards the produce of British soil. Planning and State intervention have come to stay, and their prospective effect will be to ensure stability of quality, supply and price.

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    Agricultural Marketing Policy. Nature 140, 887 (1937).

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