8 December 1999
Subsidies — what the papers say
By FWi staff
GOVERNMENT plans to divert farm subsidies from food production towards conservation bring a mixed response from this mornings newspapers.
The £1.6 billion scheme will mean lower incomes for farmers hit by production subsidy cuts, say some, while in other quarters it is heralded as a cash boost for beleaguered producers.
The Express reports “farmers are in uproar over plans to cut EU handouts to farms and divert cash into organic schemes and tourism”.
It says even environmentalists believe a blanket reduction is a mistake because “it would devastate small farms that used sustainable methods”.
The Independent interprets the announcement differently: “Farmers get extra £1.6 billion to protect the countryside”, its headline proclaims.
It adds: “Extra spending will come as some relief to farmers driven to bankruptcy by the BSE crisis. It was more generous than expected after tough negotiations with the Treasury.”
The Financial Times says analysts estimate the seven-year programme will involve £300m in fresh government funding.
“Cash switch angers farmers and delights campaigners”, says The Times, which describes the package as “part of a policy to move away from the post-war approach when the prime role of agriculture was to feed the nation”.
The Guardian reports that farmers will get far bigger grants to go green, and protect the countryside, but will lose some food subsidies to pay for the programme.