An end to money for nothing?

Updated 12/12/20 @09:15

It has been the most blatant transfer of money from the poor to rich, and it has been going on since we joined the EU. Even now having all but left, farmers will continue to receive farm subsidies.

The ten largest farmers across postcodes in our district have received almost £3 million in subsidies, in the last two financial years, 2018 and 2019.  For both years, 204 farmers, across our district, have received £8,536,779 under the Basic Payment Scheme.

The Basic Payment Scheme subsidy is doled out by the hectare to owners or renters of 5 hectares or more.  This “new system remains largely based on land ownership. Under the basic payment scheme around 30 per cent of a farmer’s payment depends on them meeting three “greening” rules. These require farmers to grow two or three different crops, to devote at least 5 per cent of their arable land to “ecological focus areas” like hedges and fallow land, and to take some responsibility for maintaining the proportion of permanent grassland in the country. The new scheme also bars some businesses from claiming the subsidy if they also operate airports, railway services, waterworks, real estate services, or permanent sports grounds. However, these businesses are still able to claim BPS if, for example, they have more than 36 hectares of eligible land.”

According to the latest data available, 2019, the farming operation in our district who has received the most amount of subsidy is AJ Thompson & Sons. In eighth place was Horton Park Farm owned by the multi millionaire Sir Roger De Haan.

In 2018, AJ Thompson & Sons Ltd also received the largest amount of farming subsidy as well.

The subsidies farmers receive every year for simply owning land will be phased out by 2028, with the funds used instead to pay them to restore wild habitats, create new woodlands, boost soils and cut pesticide use, according to an announcement by the environment secretary George Eustice at the end of Novemeber. This so the government say will be the biggest shake-up in farming policy in England for 50 years.

The wealthiest landowners will see a sharp fall in subsidies in the coming years – those receiving annual payments over £150,000 a year – will face the sharpest cuts, starting with 25% in 2021. Those receiving under £30,000 will see a 5% cut next year.

EU subsidies have served, not so much to support farming as to enhance the value of landowners’ property, making it more attractive for struggling farms to sell up and cripplingly expensive for new entrants to buy in, while providing the collateral for large farms to expand and invest in ever more powerful machinery.

Under the current subsidy system only one sixth of the subsidies paid out are designed to provide environmental or social benefits, the rest being area-based direct payments.

However, once the new subsidy measures are introduced, some of the richest people in our district will no longer receive hundreds of thousands of pounds in income support from taxpayers. Instead these new payments  are designed to encourage ecologically sound farming practices that provide public benefits for us all and not just a windfall to those who simply own land.

Not every aspect regarding Brexit can said to be bad, given that landowners will no longer get money for just owning land.

In the not to distant future, the subsidies our district’s farmers receive will mean they’ll have to restore wild habitats, create new woodlands, boost soils and cut pesticide use; which will be a welcome public benefit for us all, and our local environment.

The sooner it begins the better.

The Shepway Vox Team

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6 Comments on An end to money for nothing?

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more, this has been going on for to many years, you’re story will enlighten many who never could understand the working of the EEC, although I voted remain this is one of the barmy rules for which the EEC is known for I am surprised as well this is one of the Conservatives want to rid as its a rich man’s perk so I’m hoping that it does get implemented. The biggest / richest farmers would do well to plat masses of hedgerows as this not only will result in more beneficial insects coming back to the fields but will cost them nothing or at worst next to nothing to them with the governments funding plans, also the benefits for the farmers /countryside and the planet as whole will be monumental. Big Chris

  2. This will be a very welcome change. I also hope that future farming grant schemes are means tested (they are not currently) so that distribution of money is fairer and more accessible.

  3. Just to clear one bit of false reporting it doesn’t matter how much land a farmer owns he only gets paid if he has bought entitlements on the land . People are quite happy to pay top price to lease a car or top whack for a mortgage but when it comes to buying food they want the cheapest .

  4. And once they have restored wild habitats and planted new woodlands, where will the food we need be grown? Are we going to rely on imports. Are we to go back to manpower intensive, no mechanised farming? This article smacks of jealousy.
    If the Government really wants to protect woodlands, scrap HS2 which has a hugely detrimental effect.
    Be interesting to know what woodlands can be grown on the Marsh.

  5. @ NW

    A few points in response:

    Food: The UK is already a net importer of food (70-80%). The UK also exports a large amount of produce:

    Due to the level of imports, and because around 70% of land is classified as farmland, there is plenty of room for a large increase in conservation activity. Don’t forget that diets are starting to move away from meat and dairy, and therefore the amount of land needed for grazing and feed production is forecast to reduce anyway.

    re: HS2 – this project will affect 32 ancient woodlands and will result in the loss of 29.4 Ha. Of these, 19 sites will lose less than 1 Ha. A total of 112.5 Ha will be planted to directly offset the loss from these woodlands. The total area of additional wildlife habitat that will be created is around 3,000 Ha – a net gain from the current position.

    re: jealousy – none whatsoever. Most commentators agree that some Pillar 1 CAP payments such as BPS to be hugely distorting and inefficient. The introduction of ELMs (payments for ecosystem services) will end the BPS subsidy and will generate multiple positive benefits. Most UK taxpayers would be happy to see the end of inefficient farming subsidies that only serve to prop-up land values.

  6. @BB
    So you are content that we should be so dependent on imports, and are unconcerned at the environmental damage caused in the countries that produce our food?
    Diets may be moving away from meat and dairy, but that just means more land is required for arable.
    HS2, as diets may be changing, so are working patterns. The need for a high speed commuter line is doubtful. Furthermore, you can’t simply replace ancient woodlands with their particular biodiversity by planting new woodlands.
    Jealousy. Yes it is. There has been no investigation by Shepwayvox (Team) of the farming methods of these farmers, many of whom have farmed for generations. Most UK taxpayers have no idea of what farming entails, and while happy to spend ridiculous amounts on tech and entertainment subscriptions, demand their food be almost given to them.

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