EU Gifts £13m to Super-Rich
Wealthy landowners reap the benefits of Brussels’s common agricultural policy
SUPER-RICH landowners raked in a mammoth £13 million in EU common agricultural policy (CAP) subsidies last year, Greenpeace revealed yesterday.
The top 100 CAP recipients took in £87.9m in 2015, with the 16 of them on the Sunday Times Rich List accounting for £13.4m.
They include the Queen, a Saudi prince, the late Duke of Westminster, the Duke of Northumberland, estates owner Sir Richard Sutton, the Earl of Moray, Baron Phillimore and his family, and the Earl of Plymouth.
Of the £87.9m, £61.2m came from the “single payment scheme,” where the size of the land owned determines the amount paid out by the EU.
Greenpeace said this totalled more than what was paid to 55,119 landowners at the bottom of the list.
Sandringham Farms, owned by the Queen, received £557,707 last year.
Prince Khalid Abdullah al-Saud, owner of champion racehorse Frankel, also owns Juddmonte Farms through an offshore holding company in Guernsey.
Despite using his land primarily to breed racehorses, he received £406,826 in farming subsidies — £378,856 of it from the single payment scheme.
Grosvenor Farms Ltd, the Duke of Westminster’s estate, raked in £437,434.
He died in August as one of the richest men in Britain, leaving his £9 billion fortune — virtually free of inheritance tax because it’s wrapped up in various trusts — to his 25-year-old son.
Percy Farms, owned by the Duke of Northumberland, was given £475,031.
Billionaire Brexiteer and household appliance tycoon Sir James Dyson received almost £1.5m for his two large estates listed under Beeswax Farming (Rainbow) Ltd.
And Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has also benefited from the scheme.
Aberdeenshire farmer Frank Smart topped the subsidy list, receiving nearly £3m in grants for his business Frank A Smart & Son Ltd.
He has been subject to complaints over “slipper farming,” a legal but highly controversial scheme in which farmers buy up land for the grants attached to it.
The government has promised to maintain CAP subsidies post-Brexit until 2020, when a domestic equivalent will be established. Greenpeace called on ministers to make huge reforms to the system.
Greenpeace’s Hannah Martin 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.
FROM P1: “It’s clear that there cannot be a business-as-usual approach to farm subsidies after we leave the EU.”
Also on the list were organisations such as the National Trust, which Greenpeace said had used subsidies for conservation work.
The National Trust, Natural England and RSPB were in the top 20.
Ms Martin said: “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.”
Conservative ministers Lord Gardiner and Eurosceptic George Eustice, who work in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), also receive subsidies.
Defra claimed that they had declared 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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