Sir, – It is usually heartening to see your letter printed in The Scottish Farmer, but a bit disturbing when the headline shows you have been misunderstood.

I did not write, nor imply, that we either need to, or must, leave the EU on halloween. What I was trying to say was that the scare stories are exaggerations and that what damage is done to sectors of the UK economy will be because the UK establishment did not protect these sectors from subsidised imports?

The other day I saw a documentary showing the huge glasshouse industry in Holland and was informed that more than half of all tomatoes eaten in UK come from Holland.

This highly intensive and well financed industry got a great boost a few decades ago when the Arab oil embargo put a large hike on the cost of energy.

Our government at the time, wanting to appear 'good Europeans', refused any subsidy for fuel to our glasshouse industry, but the Dutch – being original EEC members – were allowed to subsidise theirs.

There was a thriving tomato industry in the Clyde Valley that suffered directly because of this. Similarly and for 'holier than though' reasons, the Thatcher government effectively shut down our fertiliser production by not allowing subsidies to match those of imports.

The SAI plant, at Grangemouth, was modern and efficient but could not overcome the handicap.

Since both these acts of betrayal did not increase the price of food in the shops, the press and public weren't really bothered.

Pig producers in the 1990s will remember that our stringent welfare standards were enforced years before some of our continental colleagues, which gave them a sustained market advantage.

However, if we face WTO tariffs on out food exports, putting them on imports from countries that do it to us will affect shop prices, unless the supplier is expected to absorb the tariff as seems to be what people think must happen with our exports.

The harsh lesson is that the urban majority expects cheap food as of right and thinks that agricultural subsidies are a form of social security for inefficient farmers.

It is hard to educate those who do not want to know and if they see a rise in their short term expenditures, all they are interested in is getting them back down, regardless of who it really costs.

Sandy Henderson

Faulds Farm,