Less subsidies for English farmers

English Farmers may end up receiving less in subsidies than Scotland, Wales or the rest of Europe.

The secretary of state David Miliband admitted at the Oxford Farming Conference yesterday this was because of the new year budget deal concluded by Tony Blair in 2005 which allowed countries to decide for themselves whether to move money from production to green farming schemes.

The message of cold comfort was given as he warned farmers "adapt and seek prosperity but refuse to change and prepare for a slow decline".

He accused those who defend the status quo of caricaturing the case as one about saving money not serving agriculture and warned the world of subsidies and protection just won't last.

Miliband added there was not a food security argument for tax payers to subsidise productions. Farming had to make positive net contributions and would have to reduce methane emissions, through genetics, diet and manual handling.

"If 3,000 farmers in Germany are using anaerobic digestion we should be asking why aren't we?" he said.