I read in today's Telegraph (but can't find it online) that the average farm in the UK had an income of £25,000 last year and that four-fifths of this income comes in the forms of EU subsidies (that rob taxpayers in two ways: by spending their tax money and by artificially raising the price of food). If you want to know how much your friendly local Farmer Giles gets from this racket… you can't.
European rules forcing the publication of details of the people who received farming subsidies and how much they received breached those people's rights to privacy, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.[From Farming subsidy database 'breaches privacy rights' • The Register]
So now farmers can keep their looting of the public purse to themselves. This seems wrong, especially when the terms for applying for these handouts clearly state that the amounts will be published. The right solution is, naturally, to abolish farm subsidies at the earliest opportunity, but, failing that, we should at least be allowed to see where the money is going.
Here's a positive suggestion though. I see today that the government is proposing to send taxpayers a pie chart of where the money went with their tax demand, a bit like the pie chart you get from Woking council with your enormous council tax bill. Not a bad idea - at least people can see where their money is going. But why not put this on food too: you're Waitrose bill could tell you at the end: you spent £35.45 of which £1.41 went on VAT and £24.21 went in EU subsidies and £2.91 went to Waitrose profit and…
What's wrong with some transparency?