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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