I’m outraged but confused

By | November 27, 2007

The IT tells me that

“EU to publish list of payments to each farmer”

“The amounts paid annually in EU subsidies to each of Ireland’s 130,000 farmers is to become public knowledge from 2008.

The Council of Farm Ministers meeting in Brussels yesterday agreed in principle to the annual publication of the money paid to farmers. This will mean that for the first time the European taxpayer will be able to check what each individual farmer is receiving annually. Irish farmers will receive €1.6 billion in subsidies this year from Brussels and up to now it was very difficult to access this information.”

Oooh how mean! That’ll be fodder for a right old gossiping session over who’s getting how much.
We publish public salaries, but do we publish lists of payments to social welfare recipients? You know, transparency and all that? If there’s a logic that says that all public money has to be publicly accounted for well then, let’s see published lists for what everyone in receipt of public money gets. I wouldn’t mind seeing if so-and-so down the road is on family income support and for how much. Hmmmmm rent allowances, disability pay, who’s paying what rent in council housing. Could be great gas!

But the following line says:

In Ireland the Department of Agriculture has to have the consent of each recipient before it can publish data which has to be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.”

Eh, so that means, the list won’t be printed here or is that describing the existing situation?

The rest of the article, as far as I can tell, fails utterly to clear up my confusion, unless I’m completely thick. Which isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility….but still…I can’t figure out if our data protection laws have just been over-ridden….

“Following yesterday’s decision, the matter goes back to the European Commission which will now draw up detailed rules on how and where the information will be made available.

EU sources said last night there would be no lower limit on the amounts to be published and it was likely the list of 130,000 farmers’ names would be placed on a website.

The site will also carry details of other payments made from the Common Agricultural Policy (Cap)budget including export subsidies and development grants to meat plants.”

So is it or is it not going to be published in Ireland without farmers’ consent? I can’t see any of them giving it, can you?

5 thoughts on “I’m outraged but confused

  1. Colman

    Well, in principle there is a difference between subsidies paid to businesses – farmers are meant to be running a business, after all – and welfare payments made to individuals in a private capacity.

    I would have been happier if they’d limited it to people getting more than the median wage or something like that.

    The real point here is to make it clear that most of the money is going to big industrial groups and not to individual farmers.

  2. Colman

    In fact, if I was cynical I’d suggest the lack of a lower limit is calculated to get the measure killed in Council eventually.

  3. Gordon Davies

    Doctors receipts from the Medical Card Scheme are published. Why not farmers revenue from EU subsidies. In fact it would be undemocratic not to publish these details.

    It will have little impact…until recently the biggest recipiants of CAP funding were Mr R Grimaldi (of Monaco) and Mrs E Windsor. Various Rothschild were also major beneficiaires. There were no riots when this information was published, and no-one resigned.

    Gordon

  4. Tomaltach

    If I had a choice between getting full transparency on Farmers’ incomes and getting access to the countryside, I’d prefer the latter. Frankly, the publication of the subsidies won’t do much good. It’s in the spirit of transparency so fair enough, but I don’t expect any change in efficiency or changes in perception of farmers. We all know they receive much or most of their income from subsidy already. Whether Farmer A receives x and B receives 3x is meaningless. It’s not that I’m against this measure – I feel that the imporant issue is to get farmers to admit how generously they are funded and in consequence to recognise our demands for better environmental standards and access to scenic areas.

  5. Dan Sullivan

    “We publish public salaries, but do we publish lists of payments to social welfare recipients? You know, transparency and all that? If there’s a logic that says that all public money has to be publicly accounted for well then, let’s see published lists for what everyone in receipt of public money gets. I wouldn’t mind seeing if so-and-so down the road is on family income support and for how much. Hmmmmm rent allowances, disability pay, who’s paying what rent in council housing. Could be great gas!”

    We publish the list for solicitors in receipt of free legal fees and also you can easily see what social welfare recipients are in receipt of by looking the rates on Oasis.ie or at budget time.

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