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Family farmers lobby Government to introduce cap on subsidies

Capping the amount of subsidy for large farms would stop ‘the big getting bigger’ and free up more money for smaller farms and new entrants, the Family Farmers’ Association has stressed.


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FFA would like to see a subsidy ceiling of no more than £150,000
FFA would like to see a subsidy ceiling of no more than £150,000

Members of the organisation, who met at the FFA’s annual meeting in the House of Commons, said CAP payments had fuelled the continued growth of large farms and stalled the growth of small and family units.

 

Devon farmer and FFA founding member Pippa Woods said: “Large payments give big farmers the wherewithal to buy more land, thus increasing their payments further, or to buy bigger machines, thus enabling them to employ fewer people.

 

“They are a factor in the excessive price of land, which makes starting a farm almost impossible.”

 

Former MP for Cornwall and Scillies Andrew George said it was ‘unreasonable’ that at a time when public services were being cut, to ask taxpayers to ‘dig deep’ to pay large landowners in excess of £116,000 (€150,000).

 

“It is about fairness,” said Mr George.

 

“If the same principle can apply to the benefits system, then why not the CAP?”

 

Farming Minister George Eustice said the Government would like to move away from an area based payment system in the next round of CAP reform, but would not be drawn on whether a subsidy cap could be implemented.

 

Ed Hamer of the Landworker’s Alliance added raising the minimum CAP claim from 1 ha to 5 ha had a ‘major impact’ on small farmers.

 

However Mr Eustice said the claim system was in place to protect farm businesses from hobby farmers and ‘people who just run a few ponies and use the money for an extra bit of holiday money’.

 

He highlighted the fact the CAP system was ‘complicated’, which meant a small claim would be a ‘lot of work for a relatively small amount of money’.

 

However, the Minister underlined the importance of family farming for communities and the health of the land and soils.

 

He said Defra was looking at models which shared the risk throughout the supply chain and could in turn benefit family farms, for example pig producer Tulip’s use of franchise farming.

 

“Tulip shares all that knowledge in its franchises which in effect is contract farming, so if there is a hit on the price it is Tulip that shoulders the burden,” said Mr Eustice.

 

“It also creates new opportunities for new entrants because they don’t have to buy the farm and set it up. They also benefit from access to market, knowledge and there is a fairer share of risk.”


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