A Green Business Model

An enterprising UK resident has questions about starting a new green business:

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a check for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business....

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 check for not rearing any.

If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 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 increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department....

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tons 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 wonder if we adopted this in the US, if jobs not lost not growing grain to not feed to pigs that aren't reared  would count in the stimulus numbers?

via Tom Nelson


  1. Matt:

    This reminds me of my father in law's payoff for not growing tobacco at his North Carolina mountain cabin.

  2. morganovich:

    the obvious follow on model here would seem to be for oil and gas companies to get paid not to drill/pump.

  3. L Nettles:

    "An enterprising UK resident" I suspect that enterprising is quite illegal in the UK or at least officially discouraged.

  4. Methinks:

    aren't U.S. farmers getting paid not to grow certain produce already?

  5. Elliot:

    This harkens back to the Marx brother's films.

    Groucho: What do you get to play your music?

    Chico: To play we get $20.

    G:What do you get to rehearse?

    C:For rehearsal we get $40.

    G:What do you get not to play?

    C:Not to play will cost $60.

    G:What do you get not to rehearse?

    C:You couldn't afford it.

    I any case it's a great example of how silly things get when the government takes charge of making things sensible. All parties in the actual planning could probably convince you or anyone of the logic involved in this practice.

    By the by, the pork I didn't have last night was as good as any I never had. But that's not saying much.


  6. pino:


    "Nationwide, the federal government has paid at least $1.3 billion in subsidies for rice and other crops since 2000 to individuals who do no farming at all..."

  7. Evil Red Scandi:

    I'm surprised that more people don't go whole hog for this scheme.

  8. Evil Red Scandi:

    That, and it gives a whole new meaning to "bringing home the bacon."

  9. O Bloody Hell:

    > He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so

    Isn't that sodomy? Are they paying people to not commit sodomy, now?



  10. O Bloody Hell:

    > I wonder if we adopted this in the US, if jobs not lost not growing grain to not feed to pigs that aren’t reared would count in the stimulus numbers?

    What is welfare, but paying someone not to work?

    Iz Pravda, Da! Da!

  11. O Bloody Hell:

    > That, and it gives a whole new meaning to “bringing home the bacon.”

    Actually, you bring home the bacon by not bringing home the bacon. And if you don't want to bring home the bacon, you must bring home the bacon.

    Keep it straight, man...

    Does this mean you also can't bring home artificial imitation fake ersatz pseudo bacon bits for use on your salad?

  12. Dr. T:

    A pathologist I worked with in the 1990s bought a 100 acre Christmas tree farm near Omaha. He then left the land fallow and received annual checks for 'conserving' his land. He never intended to farm, and bought the land as an investment (and to build a home on, which brought additional federal money since he was now on a farming homestead).

    I just found it amazing that the government was paying to not grow Christmas trees. It's not like the excess supply was driving down prices of a food crop.

  13. Jody:

    Major Major's father was a sober God-fearing man whose idea of a good joke was to lie
    about his age. He was a long-limbed farmer, a God-fearing, freedom-loving, law-abiding rugged individualist who held that federal aid to anyone but farmers was creeping socialism. He advocated thrift and hard work and disapproved of loose women who turned him down. His specialty was alfalfa, and he made a good thing out of not growing any. The government paid him well for every bushel of alfalfa he did not grow. The more alfalfa he did not grow, the more money the government gave him, and he spent every penny he didn't earn on new land to increase the amount of alfalfa he did not produce. Major Major's father worked without rest at not growing alfalfa. On long winter evenings he remained indoors and did not mend harness, and he sprang out of bed at the crack of noon every day just to make certain that the chores would not be done. He invested in land wisely and soon was not growing more alfalfa than any other man in the county. Neighbors sought him out for advice on all subjects, for he had made much money and was therefore wise. "As ye sow, so shall ye reap," he counseled one and all, and everyone said,"Amen."

  14. Methinks:

    Dr. T, it's my great hope to one day buy a farm in Connecticut so that I can be paid for not farming and get some of my damned money back.

  15. txjim:

    I first saw this joke back in the 80's. An feisty old Texas dairy farmer I knew had this joke in his stack of well-worn mimeographed copies he loved to take out and show to visitors. All the jokes were written as letters to the Ag Dept. I thought it was comedy gold back then and it hasn't lost it's kick! Incidentally that old dairy farmer, long dead now, is the only guy I know of who was buried in a pine box he built and laid to rest under his favorite shade tree on his farm. I still smile any time I think of that man.

  16. Joseph Hertzlinger:

    Isn't it supposed to end with "By the way, could a raise a few hogs on the side to provide breakfast bacon?"

  17. YT:

    This sounds like an old tune by (happy fats or other southerner) as a letter written to LBJ.

  18. Saloner:

    That's nothing; In fact, it is, as governmental schemes go, quite tame . You want to see the real deal? Head over to France, Spain and Italy: Not raising things is the main source of many farmers' incomes in those lands.

  19. O Bloody Hell:

    > It’s not like the excess supply was driving down prices of a food crop.

    Dude, "Wool and Mohair Price Supports" Since the #$^$%^$% 1950s.

    Read "Parliament of Whores", by P.J. O'Rourke. It's old (1990), but strangely even more true now than then.

  20. deputyheadmistress:

    that's an old gag- and I suspect the UK version was swiped and rewritten from the one here. Scroll down a bit on the page to see it.

  21. jdub:

    point noted, deputyheadmistress.
    i think the stimulus angle brings it up to date a bit, though.

  22. jdub:

    er, rather, specifically the jobs-saved-or-created angle.