Thursday, 6 January 2022

They own land! Give them money!

From the BBC:

Farmers and landowners in England could be paid to turn large areas of land into nature reserves, or to restore floodplains, under new government agriculture subsidies.

When the UK was part of the EU, farmers were given grants based on how much land they farmed. Following Brexit, the government has pledged to pay based on how farmers care for the environment.

But environmental groups say the new plans lack detail and may not deliver. In what the government describes as "radical plans", landowners and farmers will be allowed to bid for funding to turn vast areas of land - between 500 and 5,000 hectares - over to wildlife restoration, carbon sequestration, or flood prevention projects.

The underlying insanity is that the government is in charge and decides what people can or cannot do. There is no need to pay people to obey the law, that's how it works. If they want to have more woodlands, discourage farming within XX yards of a waterway, particularly steep slopes or flood plains or wherever the environmental benefits outweigh the value of food which can be grown, they can just pass a law saying "Thou shalt not...".

I don't think that policing this is particularly difficult. They can fly helicopters over it and take pictures. If anything looks suspect, go and have a look on the ground.

The most insane idea is having a cut-off of 500 hectares (1,200 acres), which is considerably larger than the average UK farm, i.e. only the top fraction of a per cent of UK landowners can qualify. As far as rewilding goes, every acre counts. Wildlife in the UK is hefted and each animal's 'territory' is usually quite small. They're not like elephants or buffaloes which travel hundreds of miles depending on the season.

The Daily Mash says it best:

"Environment secretary George Eustice said: “The agricultural role of the British government is to funnel money to landowners, and I promise you that will not change.”


mombers said...

Aren't the EU subsidies based on acres that *could* be used for farming, not actual production? This helped the milk lakes / butter mountain problems created by subsidising output. But it made the privatisation of rent worse, because instead of "here's £x to produce milk at a marginal cost of £y, yielding a net rent of £x-y to be collected by the landowner / bank", it's £x to be collected

Mark Wadsworth said...

M, as a general rule, it was acres owned. But they kept tweaking it and changing it, with add-ons for this and deductions for that. Also, every country could make up its own adjustments, and the amount per acre was vaguely related to prosperity, so a Polish farmer got a lot less per acre than a German one.

I'm sure that there are whole books written on the topic.

Let's not get bogged down in details. "They own land, give them money" underpins all this.

Bayard said...

They're not even trying to hide the shovelling of cash at their mates any more.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, they threw caution to the winds years ago.

Lola said...

It fair makes one seethe..