Oxfam welcomes farm subsidy disclosure as victory for small farmers and trade justice campaigners

Published: 1 November 2005

Oxfam today welcomed news that the UK government will publish how much money each British farmer gets in farm subsidies under the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Oxfam today welcomed news that the UK government will publish how much money each British farmer gets in farm subsidies under the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

“The announcement, expected tomorrow (March 22), follows a report by Oxfam

in 2004, which outlined the unequal distribution of subsidies in the UK. The report, Spotlight on Subsidies, revealed that seven of Britain's richest men, including the Dukes of Westminster, Marlborough and Bedford, collectively earn over £2m a year in farm subsidies.

At the time that the report was released, information on individual subsidy recipients in the UK was not available and Oxfam had to estimate the payments. Since then, the Freedom of Information Act has come into force and pressure from campaigners and journalists has led to the Rural Payments Agency agreeing to release the figures.

"This is a victory for small farmers and trade justice campaigners in the UK. The figures released by the UK government will confirm what we already know: big farmers are the winners from a system that fails almost everyone else," said Phil Bloomer, Head of Oxfam's Make Trade Fair Campaign.

"East Anglian grain barons and the landed gentry enjoy a bumper cash harvest while small British farmers struggle to get by. British taxpayers pay out more than £3bn a year to support the CAP, which destroys poor farmers overseas by encouraging overproduction and dumping. It also damages the environment and hurts consumers through higher prices," he said.

In their 2004 report Oxfam called for greater transparency regarding the distribution of CAP payments. They also recommended a cap on the level of

subsidy an individual farmer can receive, a redistribution of payments in favor of small farmers and the environment, and an end to subsidies that encourage overproduction and lead to export dumping.

Since the report was released, certain reforms have come into force that are supposed to break the link between subsidies and production. In theory, these reforms should make agricultural production in the EU more environmentally friendly and remove the incentive to overproduce, but Oxfam is concerned that the changes are not radical enough.

"Recent reforms have not gone far enough to tackle the problems of overproduction and dumping or to address the issue of subsidy distribution.

Incentives to encourage better environmental stewardship could be much stronger. With no date yet set at the EU for the elimination of export subsidies, the door has been left wide open for the continuation of harmful dumping, which undermines poor farmers overseas, said Bloomer.

"The EU still has a long way to go if it is to reform it's agricultural trade rules in a way that helps the poorest farmers, both at home and overseas," he concluded.

Contact Information

For more information contact:
Amy Barry in Oxfam''s Press Office on 44 (0)1865 312254 or (0)7980 664397