Benn Was Against the CAP Before He Was in Favour of the CAP

Hilary Benn, like his father Tony, makes a strong claim to moral authority. His years as Secretary of State for International Development saw him campaign against the inequities that make life difficult for the developing world. Chief among those inequities is the functioning of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). In 2006 Benn railed against the farm subsidy regime:

“Through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), two fifths of the EU budget goes on subsidies and support to Europe’s farmers who represent 5% of Europe’s population, and produce less than 2% of Europe’s output. Most is not spent in the poorer parts of Europe where it is needed. Most goes to the biggest farming companies and landowners, not small farmers.

Hilary Benn is now at DEFRA. His tune has changed as well, now the developing world’s small farm exporters are the competitive enemy and he is leading the British effort to ensure that there is no limit to the subsidies that the biggest landowners in Britain claim. The European Commission proposed to redistribute subsidy money away from farmers receiving more than €300,000 a year. DEFRA opposes even this sensible modest suggestion.

Hilary told the NFU conference this week that “We’re alive to some of your concerns about limiting higher levels of payments. We share them.

Hilary’s father Tony, the second Viscount Stansgate, has now retired to the family seat, Stansgate Abbey Farm on the Essex coast. From this satellite picture it appears to be a working farm. Guido wonders if the family farm benefits from CAP subsidies?

Hat-tip : CAP Health Check

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