6 December 1999
Aid cut to all farmers ‘imminent’
By FWi staff
AGRICULTURE minister Nick Brown is expected imminently to announce a cut in subsidies to all farmers.
Speculation has increased over recent weeks that the government wants to “modulate” farm subsidies in an effort to fund environmental initiatives.
A MAFF spokesman confirmed that Mr Brown would be making an important announcement on Tuesday (7 December), but refused to say what the statement contained.
Last week, however, Mr Brown suggested the government may introduce “a modest form of modulation” to raise cash for agri-environment schemes.
He told Farmers Weekly that the idea would be acceptable if it could be used to get more money from the Treasury for rural development initiatives.
Last month, Soil Association said it had started campaigning for more money for organic farmers because all the indications were that modulation would take place.
Some industry experts believe the government is considering a subsidy cut of between 1-5%, spread equally across all producers. MAFF could take up to 20%.
In an August consultation paper, MAFF indicated it favoured small cuts for everybody rather than targeting cuts towards larger farms.
The UK spent £2.27 billion on direct payments in 1998, and the Treasury could raise in the region of £22m from each 1% cut in farm subsidies.
But the National Farmers Union has opposed modulation, saying that there is no guarantee that the Treasury would re-direct the money back into farming.