FOI - EU CAP payments to be made public

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has announced that it will publish how much money each British farmer receives from £1.7 billion ($3.3 billion) in annual payments under the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy, rejecting protests that
it breaches confidentiality.

The information covers Britain's 100,000 farmers between the dates of 2002 and 2004. The information will be released on March 22. Journalists used the Freedom of Information law to request the amount of subsidies going to some of Britain's richest landowners, including Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Gerald Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster.

Tim Yeo, spokesman for the Conservative Party, stated: "I am concerned at the effect this will have on individual farm businesses. It is hard to see why [small farmers] whose payments may in many cases be below benefit payments received by their non-farming
neighbors should be disclosed individually.''

However, a spokesman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, stated: ''Commercial confidentiality does come into it. What comes in even more is public interest in knowing where 1.7 billion pounds is being spent. In our view, that outweighs commercial confidentiality.''

U.K. to Show Each Farmer's Part of $3.3 Bln in EU Aid (Update1) ( website, 17 March 2005)