I thought I would get the ball rolling be talking about farmers and the amount of subsidies they get every year, not to mention the amount of money they have now.
Out of the 2012 EU budget of 147.2 billion euros, can you guess how much went to farmers? No (find out later)
You think Bankers are Bad?
You have probably seen on the news lately about the bankers and the amount of money the government has had to put into the sector to save some of the largest banks, well the amount of money the government has spent to save the banks is only small fry compared to the vast sums every year given to farmers.
If you go back about a hundred years or so, farmers were where they should be in life, providing food for the nation, unlike today where they are seen as land owners and drive around in executive cars and can afford to take exotic holidays every year. This in my view is messed up as farmers constantly appear on the news pleading poverty, pulling the wool over the eyes of the nation, whilst everyone in the real world are losing their jobs, homes, etc farmers are making money at every turn. Yet continuing to be given money by the tax payer.
Think of it as a simple maths sum if it costs me 10p to make something and I sell it for 4p, I make a lose of 6p, if I do this for every item I sell I would go out of business over night. So why don’t farmers, the answer is simply. Subsidies. Yet the same item in the shop keeps going up every year.
Speaking from experience we have rented houses in the countryside for over 10 years, and all but one of those houses were owned by farmers, even the current house we rent is owned by a farmer, and so are the other 5 on the row. That is around £1 million pound in property.
I mean how many converted barns or outbuildings have you seen for sale, or how many farmers do you know run other businesses on their farms, these range from everything from stables, shooting grounds to holiday cottages and beyond.
Now does this sound like the lifestyle of someone who has no money and needs to be subsidies? NO
Why do they get subsidies?
You may be asking yourself why do farmers get subsidies and what about other people. Well in short the idea of the current subsidy system was kind of two fold, firstly was to stop over production of food so less got wasted, and secondly to protect the countryside and keep it a green and pleasant land.
This is not a bad idea in theory, but part of the keeping the countryside a green and pleasant land means farmers actually get paid to not farm parts of their land, this is known as a set-aside subsidy and it simply means a farmer gets paid so much per year to leave the land unfarmed for commercial gain (this ranges from a couple of thousand each year to over £10000). Also farmers even get a subsidy to cut their own hedgerows, so when you see the country lanes all tidy and start thinking the farmer is such a good person, nope, they are getting paid (in some case over £25000 per year)
The other main part of the subsidies they received is supposed to keep food costs down at the supermarket, but can you honestly tell me you have not seen the food prices going up every year.
Fuel and Vehicle Subsidies
Farmers also get a fuel subsidy every year, this comes in the form of a lower rate fuel duty on a type of fuel known as Red Diesel (known as red diesel due to the dye put in to identify it) this is meant to be used in agricultural vehicles used mainly for off road use, however as you have probably seen anytime you have visited the countryside, there are lots of vehicles used on farms that are also driven vast distances on the roads.
Farmers can also claim for vehicle subsidies such as payment towards a new tractor or 4 X 4, this is often abused by farmers who by the latest range rover, as its 4 wheel drive, yet never even use it off road for farm tasks.
So how much in subsidies do EU farmers actually get?
Well EU farmers get over 2 thirds of the whole EU budget every year, in 2012 farmers were given a whopping 60 billion euros.
This is on average around 75,000 euros or about £50,000 to each farmer in the EU. So remember the next time you see a farmer on the news complaining about the weather, not getting enough for their milk, or saying they may have to sell up. Remember these figures.
How great would it be for other industries to be subsidies, I mean I would love to be able to get subsidised in my consulting work, so I could lower my price, or how good would it be to be able to pay less for your car, house or anything else as its all subsidised. This is the reality for farmers and they pull the wool over our eyes every day, as most people don’t live in the countryside and never see the reality.
Think of it in a simple way, farmers always live in huge farm houses, do an internet search and you can clearly see all farm houses are huge, and ask yourself do you need to live in such a huge house to farm the land. NO. So why do they, because they can afford it.
Why don’t we know more about this?
Well all this information about the EU budget and who gets what used to be public information, remember that this is your money they are spending so shouldn’t you know where its going, however in 2010 following a ruling by the EU court this information access was changed so as to protect the individual farmers, as most farmers operate as sole traders this meant governments had the choice as publish the information or not, and although some farmers operate a businesses such as limited companies, the wonderful UK government decided to with-hold all the information about how much they pay and to whom.
Remember this is your money, and just the same way you would think it out of order for family to live on benefits and have 11 kids, you should feel the same way about this.
I think that as food prices are constantly going up everyday in the shops, and every year farmers are being given millions of pounds of tax payers money. I think the simply solution is to stop subsidising farmers, full stop.
They should be made by law to keep the hedgerows tidy, not paid for the privilege, I mean if you have a large property with a hedge and it gets into a mess, does the council give you money to cut it, NO, they just order you to tidy it up at your expense. This should be the same for farmers.
I think that all subsidies to farmers should be stopped and they should be able to run their farms like a proper business just like everyone else, instead of living a luxury lifestyle at everyone else’s expense, that way if they cant run the farm profitably they should sell it to someone who can, and I don’t mean selling off the farm house or the land, I mean selling the farm as a whole. Whilst I am on that subject I don’t agree with farmers converting outbuildings and barns to housing, as not only does this harm the environment but it is yet another way farmers prove they are getting too much money, as converting a barn is not cheap.
So in closing don’t be fouled the next time you see a farmer on the news saying they are not making any money, remember you are paying for their expensive holidays, rental properties, barn conversions, sports cars, etc.