Last year’s highly controversial EU referendum, and its equally controversial result, has created a fair amount of turmoil for the British economy as the nation braces itself for an exit from the 27-strong trading bloc. As well as uncertainty about the economy, a weakened pound, a slowdown in EU migration and attempts at European cities to pinch vital services from London, it would also seem that Her Majesty The Queen will also start to feel the pinch herself.
The Rt. Hon. George Eustice, Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has indicated that he intends to tinker with the current stipends given to wealthy landowners within the country, which currently sees £50 billion paid out a year as per the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy. This could leave those farms which have become reliant on such funding a little out of pocket, including The Queen. Lands operating on her Sandringham Estate in Norfolk receives £700,000 a year in government funding, while farms near Windsor Castle receive £300,000.
A revision on how agricultural funds are allocated could cost Her Majesty’s farms £1 million a year.
Eustice announced that he personally regards the current policy as a little nonsensical, as under present arrangements larger farms receive the biggest share of agricultural funds. Under the current Common Agriculture Policy, 80% of funds go to 20% of farms, as funding is determined by the amount of acreage a farm has.
“It’s a little upside down,” he said, “Because it means that the largest payments go to the largest landowners, who arguably need it the least.”
Instead, Eustice intends to see funding prioritise smaller farms, especially sheep and beef farms in upland areas, and small family farms that may struggle to maintain themselves. Larger vegetable farms that regularly produce large amounts of cash crops have been deemed to be capable of surviving without government intervention.
The move is linked with a Conservative Party manifesto pledge to match EU funding for Britain’s agriculture until 2022, with the document describing a new agricultural system to be set up afterwards to help support farms and local food production.