An agriculture subsidies scam, which is reported to be costing UK tax payers millions, has been exposed in a new investigation.
Under the current system farmers receive subsidies for each hectare of land they own, this money is intended as a stimulus to aid the production of crops. However an investigation into the process has revealed that groups operating outside of the farming industry have been purchasing agricultural land in order to benefit from these government subsidies.
The individuals participating in this lucrative scheme have been coined as “slipper farmers”; they rent land in order to make themselves eligible for the subsidy rights, then collect an annual cheque, whilst contributing nothing to agricultural production. The rewards can be considerable and have prompted people to register as farmers and buy into the stimulus scheme solely as a business investment.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead told the BBC that he had already identified the problem and had invested a lot of effort to “persuade Europe to Change the legislation”.
But Dacian Ciolos, the European Agriculture Commissioner said they had already granted the powers for individual member countries to scrap the loophole back in 2010.
To stop the system being exploited, the Scottish government will have to change the definition of farmers that are eligible for the subsidy to prevent those who are not contributing to farming from benefiting.