Environment Secretary should seize chance to reform agricultural subsidies

The Adam Smith Institute welcomes the announcement by the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, to reform the subsidies offered to farmers and calls on the Government to go further as Britain leaves the European Union.

Research Economist at the Adam Smith Institute, Sam Dumitriu, has said:

"The Common Agricultural Policy is an economic and environmental disaster. Michael Gove is right to propose withdrawing subsidies to the UK's wealthiest landowners, but he should go further and follow New Zealand's lead and scrap wasteful farm payments entirely.

"When New Zealand's cash-strapped Labour government boldy scrapped farm subsidies in the 80s, farmers were incentivised to diversify, innovate and boost productivity.

"In the years that followed, productivity growth doubled, food prices fell dramatically and agricultural exports surged. This didn't come at the expense of the environment either - fertiliser and pesticide usage halved.

"It would be harsh to throw small family farmers in at the deep end, but they already are shortchanged by the subsidy system. 80% of farm subsidies go to the 25% of farmers with the largest land holdings. We could reform the system without hurting family farms by paying out a five-to-ten year "transition allowance" equal to their recent average subsidy to family-scale farmers."

To arrange an interview or request further comment please contact Matt Kilcoyne on 07584778207 or via email matt@adamsmith.org