CAP convergence review
Rural Secretary “disappointed” in delay.
A review into the £160 million in CAP funding owed to Scottish hill farmers is to be delayed.
Despite agreeing to conduct a review following pressure from the Scottish Government, the UK Government has now written to Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing informing of the open ended delay.
Under the last CAP reform, the EU set out to redistribute direct payments more equally based on average Euros per hectare. The UK only qualified for a £190 million uplift because Scotland’s low payment rate per hectare, which brought the UK below the qualifying threshold. To date, the UK Government has only allocated around £30 million to Scotland, with the rest being distributed across the UK, despite the money being earned in Scotland.
Mr Ewing said:
“This delay is completely unacceptable. Scottish hill farmers are owed £160 million, which the UK Government has repeatedly ignored. I have been clear throughout that the money was earned in Scotland, and quite frankly should be returned to Scotland.
“Our demand for the monies to be returned to Scotland is not against farmers in other parts of the UK, but is about setting a precedent for future agricultural funding within the UK. The lack of progress on this long-standing unresolved issue is disappointing, particularly at a time when we are about to enter a range of complex and critical future funding discussions with the UK Government.
“Having already secured the review and agreed its independent chair, it is disappointing to learn that the review is being kicked into the long grass.”
The EU Multi Annual Financial Framework set out the aim of redistributing CAP payments more equitably across the EU based on average €/hectare. Under the framework, all countries receiving less than 90% of the EU average would receive a funding uplift. As the Member State, the UK only qualified for an uplift because of Scotland, whose per hectare rate is only 45% of the EU average. England, Wales and Northern Ireland are all above the 90% qualifying threshold.