West Cornwall and Isles of Scilly MP Andrew George has voiced his fears that the wrong people could be set to benefit most from a new cash windfall for the agriculture sector.
Commenting on news that farmers would receive £320 million from Europe as a result of exchange rate rules, George warned that small and medium sized family farms will struggle to hold onto the money as the bulk of it would either go to large agribusinesses or be siphoned from farming and lower farm gate prices onto the profit margins of the larger supermarkets.
The MP said: “This most welcome windfall is, of course, an unintentional benefit of the pound weakening against the Euro. £320 million of additional money paid through the Single Farm Payment system into a farming sector worth nearly £20 billion per annum could make a noticeable difference.
“However, on previous occasions when additional payments have been made to the industry, the benefit of that investment has often ended up in the pockets of supermarket shareholders rather than staving off the demise of our small farm sector.
“All too often the benefit of such subsidies are siphoned straight out of the farming industry. Their weak bargaining position means that supermarkets can ratchet down farm gate prices but invariably fail to pass the price cut on to the consumer. The dairy sector is a classic case in point where farmers are losing on average 2p per litre. Consumers are still paying the same price.
“Someone else is taking the cream!”