Shifter - You don't see a farmer on a bike???
IMAG1014 by neil.d.cox, on Flickr
Sorry to everyone/anyone who is getting fed up of that photo cropping up!
The problem in the UK is that few buyers want to pay a true price for the cost of production of their food. I took lambs to market a fortnight ago and got £1.80/kg, last week it was £1.50/kg. So an average 32kg Welsh mountain lamb was £48. If you look at the cost of getting lambs there, from feed over winter for the ewe, drenches for worm and fluke, rent/mortgages, machinery costs (even knackered 2nd hand stuff, not everyone has a brand new Deere) the margins are tight. Subsidies do come with cross-compliance and other stipulations, but without them farmers would be broke (or buyers would pay the 'real' price of their food, which I'm guessing wouldn't go down very well!).
The payments for environmental schemes (such as Glastir in Wales), are based on a farmers commitment to provide certain habitats or practices that are benefitial to the environment but these require a significant amount of work to meet. For example I could plant an orchard, fence off a pond including a 3m border or create a wildlife corridor but the cost of doing so would pretty much match the income provided by the payment. The environment benefits, but I would lose acreage and therefore income from farming the ground.