Letter: Farmers' hand-outs

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Sir: The only possible justification for squandering public money on redundancy payments for farmers (4 January) is that for the past half-century we have squandered public money on paying them subsidies. Subsidy-led farm policies have been little short of a national catastrophe, producing waste on a massive scale, pollution, countryside destruction and the inflation of farm assets, thus denying a generation of urban youngsters the opportunity of a start in farming.

That such wide-scale misuse of taxpayers' money should continue unchallenged for so long reveals the strength of the land-owning lobby both inside and outside Parliament. Sir Simon Gourlay's claim that farmers have a right to subsidies shows just how deeply ingrained the 'hand-out culture' has become among a group that once considered itself fiercely independent.

The only rational solution to this absurd and anti-social policy is to phase out farm subsidies as soon as is practicably possible. To introduce a new subsidy as a 'bribe' for giving up existing subsidies would be to throw good money after bad.

Yours faithfully,


Staple Fitzpaine, Somerset