COUNTRY landowners have launched a stinging retort to allegations made yesterday (see News) that the vast bulk of EU farm subsidy payments have for years been creamed off by their members and huge agri-industrial conglomerates.
The disclosures of huge payments to agricultural fat cats have "misled and confused everyone," said Dorothy Fairburn, Yorkshire director of the Country Land and Business Association, pointing out - as we reported yesterday - that CAP has now been reformed.
"There are no subsidies now," she said. "What the Government should be revealing are the public benefits delivered by farmers. The Government should be proud of what we provide in terms of producing good quality food and supporting the rural economy, and the new, enhanced role we play in countryside management. This is what should be trumpeted, and yet the Government is silent today."
Since the start of this year, farmers no longer receive subsidies for food production, but are paid for landscape and environmental services provided. This payment is through the new Single Payment Scheme.
"What's been released in any case only gives half the historic picture of the overall income and expenditure of a farm business.
"At a time of reform when people are asking what money is now going to farmers, it's a great opportunity to fly the flag for British farming and its new role, ranging from being allowed to provide healthier school dinners to growing bio-fuels and maintaining the countryside."