Two months after responding to a Freedom of Information Act request releasing the breakdown of payments to farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy, the Rural Payments Agency this week released a promised breakdown of the CAP subsidy data by region.
You can download PDFs of the original list of payments with regions added for each entry or PDFs of subsidy payments sorted by region.
The information covers those payments for which RPA is responsible and includes payments made under Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) schemes in England and under non IACS schemes throughout the UK. It does not include information about payments made under IACS schemes by the EU Paying Agencies in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Only the CAP payments for England have been released so far because the Welsh and Scottish authorities responsible for distributing CAP cash have so far refused to release their data on Data Protection grounds. Paul Flynn MP, who has been seeking the Welsh subsidy data, received a seven-page legal argument against disclosure from Carwyn Jones AM, the Welsh Assembly Government Environment Minister.
The same issue arose in the United States in 1996, when the Washington Post successfully sued the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to release details of US farm subsidies under the American Freedom of Information Act. Consequentially, you can now search for details of American farm subsidies on the web site of the Enviornmental Working Group.
We’ll see if the Information Commissioner comes to the same conclusion as the American judge when he decides on whether the Welsh Assembly should follow DEFRA’s example and release the CAP data for individual farms. Of course the details of the conflicting privacy and openness laws are very different here — but the principle of open government is much the same.