[diggers350] CAP- the ultimate regressive tax
marknbarrett at googlemail.com
Fri Jun 18 14:44:36 BST 2010
*CAP provides another bumper payout for landowners*
The common agricultural policy is a rotten system that makes the rich richer
– and there's nothing we can to do change it
Five giant European sugar companies netted €500m between them in CAP
payments. Photograph: Alexandre Meneghini/AP
Forget the dodgy bankers. The people who have consistently received the most
generous handouts from the public purse over the last 30 years are the big
landowners. Teachers, the police and the others are preparing for savage job
cuts, tax rises and an age of economic austerity, but a very few people who
do nothing more than own land are being handsomely rewarded.
Last month, the watchdog group Farmsubsidy.org collated the EU figures which
identify where the €55bn common agricultural policy (CAP) subsidies went in
2009. No big surprises there, with five giant European sugar companies
netting €500m between them, a few dairy companies making tens of millions
each and the top 1,200 landowners and companies on the continent receiving
more than €5bn between them.
Last year, the number of farmers and food companies who received individual
payments of more than €1m increased by more than 20%. In Britain we had 32
organisations and individuals each getting more than €1m.
Perhaps because one in five Tory MPs is believed to receive farm subsidies,
the government refused to divulge the British figures in advance of the
election, and we won't have the exact names of the UK's biggest
subsidy-reapers for a few weeks. But we now have the spreadsheet of the
65,000 people who received the farm subsidies, and it's not that different
from other years.
The biggest handout will probably not go to a full-blooded capitalist, but
to the Co-op group, which manages 16 large farming estates and is now
Britain's largest farmer. Up near the top of the list, though, are the Dukes
of Westminster and Marlborough, the former Lord Vestey's family, the Queen,
and very many hereditary landowners.
The vast majority of farmers get under €5,000 and bust a gut to survive, but
in a time of recession and belt-tightening these subsidies to the richest
look grotesque. That €55bn represents more than 40% of European Union's
entire annual budget, yet the top 10% of big landowners are the people in
least need. We are each paying around €100 a year for them to do little more
than own land.
What's more, the level of payments is cast in stone and cannot be revised
for at least three more years, thanks to an agreement between France and
Germany, who have more subsidy billionaires than any other country. Even if
Britain goes belly-up, their cash is safe. And because British farmers are
paid in euros, rather than pounds, they have all enjoyed windfall profits in
the last four years as the pound has tumbled in value.
Few people on either side of the political spectrum have anything good to
say about the CAP. Critics point out that it was set up 50 years ago when
food supplies were uncertain and nearly 20% of the population worked on the
land. Today, just 5.4% of EU's population works on farms, and the sector is
responsible for just 1.6% of the economy. Moreover, the subsidy system
distorts markets, encourages farms to get bigger, does little for the
environment and forces small farmers off the land. The result is that the
subsidies are grabbed by fewer and fewer richer and richer people.
Aid agencies say these subsidies make it impossible for poorer countries to
compete, and health groups argue that they make industrial fats and sugars
artificially cheap for junk food production.
Britain has long called for a cut in EU farm spending to free up funds for
other areas such as efforts to boost economic competitiveness. But however
dire the economic times, there no chance of a radical overhaul before 2013,
when France and Germany are expected to veto change again. It looks like we
are stuck with a rotten system that we can do nothing about.
On 16 June 2010 21:08, james armstrong <james36armstrong at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Payments to landowners under the Common Agricultural policy in 2009
totalled £3.3 billion
> Compare the total Housing Revenue Account which funds social housing in
> at £2.7billion in that year.
> The CAP payments go to dukes earls, viscounts,the queen, the Duchy and
owners of 1 million acres of ponypaddocks. etc
> The Housing Revenue Account funds local authorities to purchase Social
houses in small and inadequate numbers to meet the estimated 1 million on
> Do you find it difficult to decide where savings should be made ?
> see cap-payments.defra.gov.uk and www.communities.gov.uk
> Get a new e-mail account with Hotmail - Free. Sign-up now.
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