Money grows not on trees but in ‘naked acres’, devoid of actual crops, north of the border.
This we learned from Panorama: The Money Farmers (BBC One, Monday 8.30pm), which revealed how trading for subsidy entitlements lets the rich people get richer in return for doing not very much. ‘Twas ever thus.
Actually, it made a nice change to get angry about farming subsidies going to Brits instead of the French, with a handful of entrepreneurs showing the wherewithal to exploit a loophole large enough to drive a herd of non-existent cattle through.
Self-consciously sassy host Samantha Poling led the outrage, complaining about wealthy farmers “getting public money they don’t need” rather than, as she winningly put it, “hard-working people like me”. Because everybody likes journalists, don’t they?
Poling’s won Baftas for her investigative probing, but all she had to do here was look a bit like Amanda Redman and hold the mic as various canny Scots chortled about stiffing the system. Apparently pretend-farming is now Scotland’s third-largest industry after nuclear subs and Del Amitri.
Then it was on to the very necessary clips of our host chasing deer in a helicopter, while the absurdity of the system was further highlighted using graphics modelled after a Fuzzy Felt playset and, damningly, the liberal use of a swanee whistle.
The moral of the story was that it takes money to make money. Expect more Scottish non-farmers to target the non-food aisle soon.