This is the Queen's Sandringham Estate that received £7million in farming subsidies -- Picture in Daily Mail
Some years back I had detailed out the agricultural subsidies that go to the wealthy. It made a very interesting read, and provided an insight into how the rich and powerful in European Union and the United States quietly pocketed farm subsidies. One of the objectives of giving subsidies is to ensure a reasonable standard of living for farmers, and I wonder how the subsidy bonanza to the rich and wealthy in the name of farmers could be justified.
Here is that analysis -- Farm subsidies: The report card (http://www.stwr.org/imf-world-
At a time when the economy is faced with recession, and country after country is resorting to austerity cuts, I find no mention of restricting farm subsidies. Specially after the economic meltdown of 2008-09, I had expected the industrialised countries to cut farm support to the wealthy and divert the precious financial resources to creating employment opportunities. With this intention, I thought of doing a reality check.
No, nothing has changed.
Take the case of Britain. I was reading today that the British economy is growing at a snail pace of 0.3 per cent in the first quarter of this year. And yet the British Queen fails to set an example by walking the talk. According to a news report in Daily Mail (March 5, 2012), the Queen received a subsidy of 7 million British pounds in the past ten years (http://bit.ly/A8TSTw). Earlier, in my report card I had said: "Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is not a farmer, but she is amongst the highest recipient of agricultural subsidies. In 2003-04, she received nearly US $ 1.31 million in farm payments. Her son and heir apparent to the British throne, Prince Charles, received more than US $ 480,000 as agricultural support for his personal estate, the Duchy of Cornwall, and the Duchy's Home Farm."
One of the richest person in Britain -- Duke of Westminster -- was quite close to the Queen when it comes to subsidies. He received 6 million pounds during the same period. Estimated to be worth 7 billion pounds, Duke of Westminster "owns about 55,000 hectares of farm estates, received a subsidy of US$ 480,000 as direct payments in 2003-04, and in addition gets US$ 550,000 a year for the 1,200 dairy cows he keeps." Among the others receiving the subsidy bonanza is Sir Richard Sutton who features in the Times Rich List, and still got 1.9 million pounds in farm subsidies.
Well, the message is loud and clear. For the rich and powerful, life goes on as usual. Whether it is economic recession or depression, the rich remain untouched. It is only the average citizen who has to bear the brunt and be prepared to rough it out.