The Queen, aristos & Saudi prince, 16 of Rich List top 100 on EU farm welfare

Tony Gosling tony at
Thu Sep 29 20:39:29 BST 2016

The Queen, aristocrats and Saudi prince among recipients of EU farm subsidies
At least one in five of the top 100 UK recipients 
of CAP subsidies were for farms owned or run by 
aristocratic families, say Greenpeace. The top 
100 received £87.9m in agricultural subsidies last year.
Press Association Thursday 29 September 2016 11.35 BST
Wealthy aristocrats and a Saudi landowning prince 
are continuing to reap hundreds of thousands of 
pounds from the European Union’s common agricultural policy (CAP).
At least one in five of the top 100 recipients of 
CAP subsidies in the UK last year were farm 
businesses owned or controlled by members of 
aristocratic families, an investigation by 
environmental campaign group Greenpeace found.
They include the Queen, the Duke of Westminster, 
the Duke of Northumberland, Sir Richard Sutton, 
the Earl of Moray, Baron Phillimore and family, and the Earl of Plymouth.
Household goods billionaire Sir James Dyson, who 
campaigned for Brexit, is also in the top 100.
Greenpeace analysed the top recipients of CAP 
subsidies in the UK for the first time.
Some 16 of the top 100 are owned or controlled by 
individuals or families who feature on the 2016 
Sunday Times rich list, receiving a total of 
£10.6m last year in “single payment scheme” 
subsidies alone, and £13.4m in total farm subsidies, Greenpeace said.
Aberdeenshire farmer Frank Smart topped the list, 
receiving nearly £3m in grants for his Banchory 
business, Frank A Smart & Son Ltd.
The farmer has been subject to complaints that he 
has been “slipper farming” - a technique in which 
farmers buy up land principally for the grants 
attached to it. While not illegal, the practice has been heavily criticised.
Also on the list were organisations such as the 
National Trust, which Greenpeace said had used 
their subsidies for important conservation work like managing habitats.
The government has promised to maintain CAP 
subsidies post-Brexit until 2020 while a domestic system is put in place.
Prince Khalid Abdullah al Saud, who owns champion 
racehorse Frankel, has reportedly described his 
farming interest as a hobby. Juddmonte Farms, 
which he owns through an offshore holding company 
in Guernsey, received £406,826 in farm subsidies 
last year, of which £378,856 came from the single payment scheme.
The two large estates owned by Sir James under 
Beeswax Farming (Rainbow) Ltd received almost 
£1.5m. The billionaire rubbished claims that 
British international trade would suffer outside 
the EU as he backed the campaign to leave Europe.
Hannah Martin, of Greenpeace UK’s Brexit response 
team, said: “It is untenable for the government 
to justify keeping a farming policy which allows 
a billionaire to breed racehorses on land 
subsidised by taxpayers. It’s clear that there 
cannot be a business-as-usual approach to farm 
subsidies after we leave the EU.
“Some of the recipients of these subsidies are 
doing great work which benefits our environment - 
but others are not - and it makes no sense that 
the CAP’s largest subsidy payments don’t distinguish between the two.”
Christopher Price, from the Country Land 
Association, told the BBC Radio 4 Today 
programme: “He is not getting it because he’s a 
racehorse owner, he’s getting it because he’s a 
farmer and all developed countries support farming in one way or another.”
But he agreed that Britain’s departure from the 
EU could create an opportunity to reform the 
system, for which there was “certainly” a need.
Sandringham Farms, the estate owned by the Queen, 
received £557,707, while Grosvenor Farms Limited, 
which farms the Duke of Westminster’s estate, 
raked in £437,434. The billionaire landowner died 
in August and left his fortune to his 25-year-old son.
Percy Farms, described by Greenpeace as the 
“in-hand farming operation” of the Duke of 
Northumberland, was given £475,031. The National 
Trust, Natural England and the RSPB were all in the top 20.
The top 100 received £87.9m in agricultural 
subsidies last year, of which £61.2m came from 
the single payment scheme, where the size of the 
land owned largely determines the grant amount.
Greenpeace said this was more than what was paid 
to the bottom 55,119 recipients in the single payment scheme combined.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, 
Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “The 
secretary of state has underlined the need for 
continuity for farmers and together with her 
ministerial team is looking forward to working 
with industry, rural communities and the wider 
public to shape our plans for food, farming and 
the environment outside the EU.”
Conservative ministers Lord Gardiner and 
Eurosceptic George Eustice, who work in Defra, 
also receive subsidies. The department said the 
pair had declared any potential conflicts of 
interest, complied with the ministerial code and 
were cleared to discuss the future of the grants post-Brexit.
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