Agriculture businesses top Cap list for payouts

Thu, Sep 4, 2008, 01:00

THE TOP 10 Irish recipients of money from the Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) are not farmers but big businesses, the man who runs a watchdog website on EU subsidies said yesterday.

Jack Thurston, adviser to former UK agriculture minister Nick Brown, said billions which should be going to help struggling farmers were being paid instead to companies.

The website, Farmsubsidy.org, lists Bord Bainne, the Irish dairy board, as the top Irish recipient of EU subsidies at €76.5 million based on the latest information available.

In second place the site lists Kerry Ingredients Ireland, with €10.6 million, and in third place Bailie Foods Ltd, with just over €10 million.

Glanbia was in fourth place. It had three companies in the top 20 earners receiving payments totalling just over €24 million.

Calling for a debate on how the Cap funding could be used, he said that even the distribution of the single farm payment which is based on supports paid to farmers showed that 37 per cent of these went to the top 10 per cent of farmers. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act on single farm payments from the Department of Agriculture earlier this year showed that farm-related payments to the top 10 farmers amounted to less than €3 million.

The top earner was a company owned by Larry Goodman, Irish Agricultural Development, which received €508,390, and in second place was Kepak Farm which received €346,118.

In third place was John O'Shea, €304,383; fourth was Patrick Reynolds, with €284,838; fifth was Walter Furlong, €263,049; sixth was Cyril Goode, €257,061; seventh was Terence Coughlan, €244,857; eighth was Richard Cope, €229,815; ninth was Simon Mangan, €224,421 and 10th was Patrick Howard, €212,358.

Two recipients, Walter Furlong from Co Wexford and Terence Coughlan from Co Cork, had objected to being identified in the media. Traditionally, the Department of Agriculture claimed it could not give out names of people who objected to their identities being revealed.

But in this case, an Information Commissioner upheld the right of the media to publish the names and amounts received.

Department of Agriculture figures show that the average Irish farmer receives just over €11,000 annually in single farm payments.