Hill farmers fleeced
Scottish farmers owed millions in convergence payments.
Scottish hill farmers are owed around £160 million in CAP funding that the UK Government has failed to return to Scotland.
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 average rate brought the UK below the qualifying threshold.
The UK Government allocated Scotland £30 million with the rest being distributed across the UK, despite this money being earned in Scotland.
Commenting during a statement to parliament, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
“Scottish hill farmers are owed £160 million, which the UK Government has repeatedly failed to return to Scotland – where it was earned. Without Scotland, the UK would not have received an extra penny.
“The EU clearly intended this money to go to the farmers who receive the least amount of support, yet the UK has simply pocketed the money. Frankly, the money should be returned.
“This demand is not against farmers in other parts of the UK. It is about setting a baseline for future agricultural funding with the UK. Unless the UK Government returns the money, how can we rely on them to treat our farmers fairly in Brexit negotiations and future funding discussions.”
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.