Dr. Oliver Marc Hartwich13.03.2007 09:50
Unglaublich, aber wahr: Nun zahlt die EU ihre Landwirtschaftssubventionen nicht mehr nur an Landwirte, die nichts produzieren, sondern auch an Nicht-Landwirte, die nichts produzieren. Das berichtet die Londoner Times heute:
City dwellers are making huge profits out of an EU loophole that allows people who have never set foot on a farm to claim European farm subsidies.
The loophole allows investors to become classified officially as farmers and then buy the right to receive annual EU subsidies to cut agricultural production. Because the subsidies are decoupled from the land they relate to, investors do not need actually to own the ground they are claiming for or even go anywhere near it.
The profits to be made are enormous, with investors potentially increasing their capital nearly fivefold in 5 years.
Auctioneers and brokers who used to sell cattle and farm-land are now focusing their attention on selling the rights to receive European taxpayers’ money — known as entitlement trading — in what one described as a “ferocious” market with the rights to subsidies “flying off the shelf”.
Demand is outstripping supply by five to one, because the profits from investing in subsidies are up to ten times higher than putting the money in a bank. After making a one-off payment, the investor is entitled to receive from the taxpayer every year a cheque that typically amounts to a third of the original investment.
Open auctions are being held — with one in Aberdeen due next Friday — while investors are also buying the rights to subsidies over the telephone, through brokers, through internet auction sites and inter-active trading.
The EU pays £60 billion a year in farm subsidies, which were originally aimed at boosting production, but last year farmers were given — free — the automatic right to subsidies, known as the single farm payment entitlement, in return for reducing production. They were also given the right to trade the subsidy entitlements between themselves, but the legislation is so loose that in practice anyone can officially qualify as a farmer.
British farmers claim around £5 billion a year of the subsidies in return for which they are meant to make environmental improvements to the land.
However, many are using their new right to sell the subsidies in order to raise a lump sum when they retire or to pay for new equipment.
Giles Lane, of C&D Property Services, which brokers the rights to farm subsidies, said: “You don’t need a farm to claim the entitlements. Sitting in your living room in London you could be claiming them.
One farmer emigrated to Aus-tralia and he’s still claiming the entitlements from there. It seems bizarre, but it’s totally legal. It’s how the Government wanted to set up the reforms.”
Früher hieß es noch, dass die dümmsten Bauern die dicksten Kartoffeln haben. In der EU braucht man dazu aber anscheinend gar nicht mehr Bauer zu sein.
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