Capping the CAP

A new report from the South West Green Party exposes the fact that massive payments to large corporations are being made under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Analysis of Defra data by the Green Party on CAP payments has revealed that sizeable sums of money are being diverted away from smaller farms towards large corporations.

In particular, the Green Party points to a payment of nearly £2 million last year to Serco Regional Services for ‘supporting a step change in the international performance of companies in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’. The Serco Group is currently the subject of a criminal investigation following allegations they billed the Ministry of Justice for monitoring 3,000 non-existent offenders on a lucrative electronic tagging contract. [1]

Professor Molly Scott Cato, lead Green Party European candidate in the South West and the Party’s finance speaker, said:

“The public might be somewhat surprised or even shocked by the fact that huge amounts of EU funds, portrayed as supporting rural agricultural incomes, are in fact being directed towards public bodies and dubious corporations such as Serco. This amounts to nothing less than corporate welfare.”

The Green Party believes such revelations make the need for radical reform of the CAP payments’ system even more urgent. Whilst accepting and supporting the use of EU subsidies for farming, the Green Party is calling for a new Green vision for the agricultural sector. In a new report outliningthis vision [2], the Green Party proposes a maximum limit of €300,000 on individual and corporate CAP payments and to use the subsidy system to support smaller farms that use organic and less intensive systems of production.

Devon farmer, Andy Bragg, who manages an organic farm near Exeter, said:

“The potential for European policy to create positive change is enormous. Political directives drive farming and a greener agriculture policy across the 28 European countries would be a massive improvement for the world.”

Greens believe that EU subsidy payments need to be used to create agricultural jobs through supporting food delivery systems that reduce food miles and connect local producers and consumers.

Dr Scott Cato concluded:

“Its time to cap the CAP and allocate farm subsidies more equitably so they can be used to support cooperation between small farmers, help community farming and provide better access to land and training in sustainable practices. Fundamentally, we need to place a duty on farmers to use the land for the common good.”

Notes

[1] Independent: ‘Cheats’ Serco and G4S forced to face a grilling from powerful group of MPs

[2] Capping the CAP: Using EU Farm Subsidies to Protect the Environment and Support Small Family Farms in the South West by Professor Molly Scott Cato, Finance Speaker for the Green Party and Henry Gent, Devon-based dairy farmer and South West Green Party policy coordinator

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