The decision by the UK Government yesterday (4 September) to allocate £160m of European Union Convergence funding to Scotland’s farmers has been described as “long overdue” by South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Rural Economy Spokesperson Colin Smyth.
The announcement was made by UK Government Chancellor Sajid Javid when setting out the UK Government’s spending plans in the House of Commons today.
The failure of the UK Government to award the full funding to Scotland’s farmers until now dates back to 2013, when the EU announced moves to redistribute Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments more fairly, on the basis of average Euros per hectare.
The EU paid the uplift money to the UK Government to bring Scottish hill farmers up to the average per-hectare payments of all the other EU countries. However, the decision was made by the UK Tory government to spread the payments across the whole farming sector across the UK rather than award the funding to Scotland’s farmers.
Colin Smyth said, “I welcome this u-turn by the Tory Government who have robbed Scotland’s farmers of £160 million per year for the past six years. The EU allocated this funding specifically to bring support up for farmers in Scotland because of the particular challenges they face. But the UK Government withheld that funding, pushing many farms to the brink. It is now vital that this funding is allocated by the Scottish Government to farmers who need it most, namely hill farmers”