South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned that any cuts to support to farmers in the region would be “unacceptable”, following the announcement by the UK Government into how farm funding should be distributed around the United Kingdom after Brexit.
An “independent advisory panel” will look at support going to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and recommend how cash will be shared out after the UK has left the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
However, the review will not look at previous funding decisions, despite the widespread view that Scottish farmers are still owed £160m from the UK Government, after they failed to fully pass on EU convergence uplift payments to Scottish farmers. The UK only qualified for such payments due to the nature of Scottish farming but rather than distribute the funding to farmers in Scotland, the UK Government chose to divide it across the whole of the UK, a move widely criticised at the time by farmers.
Colin Smyth said, “We are just a few months away from brexit, yet there has been a complete and utter lack of clarity from both the UK and Scottish Government over the long term future of farm payments which are so crucial to this area. When the UK Government complete this long awaited review it is vital that we do not see cuts to the share of funding our region’s farmers get”.
“At the present 17 per cent of the UK’s CAP funding comes to Scotland, even although we have less than 10% of the population. The reasons for this are the clear geographical and land quality challenges Scotland’s farmers face compared to other parts of the UK. Any cut in this percentage would be unacceptable. It is also time the UK Government paid up the £160 million they owe Scotland’s farmers for the EU convergence uplift payments. It is deeply disappointing that this review will not address the fact that Scottish farmers have lost out on millions of pounds of funding since 2014 due to the unfair decisions made by the UK Government.”
“It’s time we started getting a fair deal for local farmers from both the UK Tory and Scottish SNP governments.”