Tue, 12 Feb 2019
Richard Benyon - Conservative
NEWBURY MP Richard Benyon’s family farming business benefited from more than £250,000 of EU subsidies last year.
Mr Benyon, who was the fifth highest on a list of 48 land-owning MPs or peers to receive money through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), admitted his family’s business “might well take a hit” post-Brexit.
In total, £278,180.22 was handed to the Englefield Estate Trust Corporation Ltd, Englefield Estate Forestry and Englefield Home Farms, which encompasses 2,000-acres of mixed livestock and arable farmland around Englefield.
Mr Benyon, a director of the trust, said he did not receive the money personally and that Brexit had presented an opportunity to create a more sustainable system.
The UK will leave the CAP under any Brexit arrangement and the Government has pledged to commit around £4bn a year for farm support until 2022.
A seven-year transition period for farmers’ funding, which will see direct payments from the state reduced and tied more closely to delivering environmental and other ‘public goods’, has been proposed.
The Environmental Land Management scheme will provide farmers who generate the greatest environmental benefit the most cash.
Mr Benyon said: “I think the public want it to be linked to public goods.
“When I was in DEFRA, I and the agriculture minister tried a number of schemes which were deemed too complicated at the time, where payment would be directly linked to outcomes.
“That’s now what’s happening, so I’m pleased.
“My family business might well take a hit, but it’s something I believe is right for agriculture and will link farmers and landowners in a much more beneficial way.
“Like every farm, we are looking to a new regime of agriculture support. I think one of the most important things for farmers is to work with their neighbours and create landscape projects.
“The way the system operates until we leave the EU is that a farm receives payment… and I have campaigned or been active in government and outside it, saying that it’s not a sustainable system of farming support.”
On the wider impact to UK farmers, Mr Benyon said that a number would cope post Brexit through the alternative payment scheme, provided they could show they were benefiting the environment or communities.
Saying that there would be some uncertainty, Mr Benyon added: “Farmers have been living for decades under a system where they get a payment on an acreage basis and that’s coming to an end,”
National Farmers Union leaders wrote to every MP stating their concerns about exports in a no deal scenario.
“We export most of our lamb to France and that will be subject to a 40 per cent tariff,” said Mr Benyon.
“Every other type of farm export could be subject to a tariff that would make it uncompetitive.
“This is one of the reasons I would not want no deal.”
Englefield Farm Homes received £214,158.62, split between an agri-environment climate subsidy of £37,820, a £2,388.66 reimbursement of financial discipline, a £120,516.29 basic payment scheme and £53,433.67 for greening – practices beneficial to climate and environment.
The Englefield Estate received £52,230.28, broken down into £9,281.73 for agri-environment-climate, a £563.20 reimbursement of financial discipline, a basic payment scheme of £29,614.99 and £12,770.36 for greening.
Englefield Estate Forestry received £11,791.32, divided between a £4,831.30 subsidy for investment in forest area development and improvement of the viability of forests, and a £6,960.02 grant for forest environmental and climate services and forest conservation.
The Duke of Norfolk was the peer to receive the highest amount of EU subsidies (£473,062), while MP for South Dorset, Richard Drax, was the highest-receiving MP with £411,201.