George Eustice told the BBC farmers had managed to recoup subsidy losses through increased farm gate prices
Industry leaders were left ‘flabbergasted’ after Defra secretary George Eustice claimed farmers would generally be able to recoup increased input costs through the increased prices they were seeing in the marketplace.
In clips posted online by BBC South West political editor Martyn Oates, Mr Eustice said farmers had ‘more than recouped’ reductions in subsidy payments through increased incomes for the produce they have grown.
“We are also increasing the payments for all of the environment schemes that we are asking them to do, a thirty per cent increase on average for the countryside stewardship scheme,” he said.
“In the round, actually, I think the reforms that we are making are the right reforms to do both for the environment and the resilience of our farming sector. And we are doing it in a context when farm incomes have been generally recovering.”
In another clip, he acknowledged feed and input costs were going up but highlighted commodity and farmgate price were also rising adding farmers would ‘generally be able to recover those increased input costs from the higher prices they are also getting in the market’.
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NFU president Minette Batters said: “To say I am flabbergasted is an understatement.
“Unless the world wakes up to the many mouths Ukraine was feeding we are headed for disaster - the Arab Spring will look mild.
“We will need serious global action to ensure vulnerable, poorer countries achieve food security.”
Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said the statement on incomes was not true.
“I expect he thinks that the majority of viewers are from non-farming areas, so he can just get away with it.
“For the record: farmers lost between 5 and 25 per cent of their payments in December. Nearly none of them have had anything to replace it.”