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08/11/13 14:53

Scotland’s CAP budget cut

Rural Affairs Secretary slams ‘disgraceful’ settlement imposed by UK Government.

Scottish farmers will be deprived of hundreds of millions of euros in European subsidies that is rightfully theirs following today’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget announcement by the UK Government.

The UK Government’s decision not to award up to €230 million between 2014 -2020 of CAP funding known as the ‘convergence uplift’ to Scotland goes against the wishes of both the Scottish Parliament and the European Union.

The only reason that the UK qualifies for the uplift is because of Scotland’s low payments under the current system. However, the UK Government has confirmed that it will not pass on the uplift to Scotland and will instead impose deeper cuts to Scotland’s CAP budget – leaving farmers here with the lowest per hectare payments in Europe.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“This is a disgraceful budget settlement for Scotland’s farmers and crofters and confirms our worst fears. It condemns Scottish farmers and crofters to the lowest CAP payments in Europe and completely disregards both the cross party demands in the Scottish Parliament and the wishes of the European Union.

“The whole reason the EU brought in the convergence uplift was to benefit those farmers with the lowest per hectare rates, and the only reason the UK qualifies is because of Scotland’s low payments.

“The standard method for calculating payment allocations in Europe is the average per hectare amount and any other method invented by UK ministers to deny our farmers a fairer share is nothing more than a red herring.

“Contrary to the UK Government’s claims, passing the convergence uplift to Scotland in full cannot be linked to deductions for farming colleagues in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. This is money that rightfully belongs to Scotland and divvying it up across the UK means that farmers in other regions are benefiting at Scotland’s expense. Ironically, the DEFRA Secretary of State argued in Brussels for deeper cuts to the CAP budget but is now saying he needs Scotland’s cash to mitigate cuts elsewhere in the UK – cuts that were much shallower that he demanded.

“I do not know how UK ministers will be able to look Scottish farmers in the eye after this outrageous decision that amounts to pocketing Scotland’s farm payments. I am aghast that the new Secretary of State for Scotland can welcome the UK Government’s decision to give Scotland the lowest farm payments in the whole of Europe and the UK – he could not have got off to a worst start as far as Scottish agriculture is concerned.

“If Scotland had been a member state in our own right during those negotiations we would have benefited from a €1 billon uplift. We have been denied that uplift and now we are even being denied up to €230 million uplift that the UK gets because of Scotland.

“And let’s not forget that in the EU negotiations, 16 out of the 28 countries also negotiated an uplift in their rural development budgets. But the UK Government didn’t lift a finger for Scotland – the country with the lowest share of that fund in Europe as well.

“It is clearer than ever before that independence offers the best solution for Scotland and our rural economy - decisions about Scotland’s farming industry should be taken by the people who live and work here rather than have others decide for us.

“The UK Government’s offer to explore how Scotland could beyond the eight per cent to perhaps 10 per cent coupled support will be small comfort for Scottish farmers after this poor CAP budget settlement.”

Notes to editors

A cross-party letter calling for the full convergence uplift to be allocated to Scotland was sent to the UK Government:

The convergence uplift is worth €231 million gross. However, with Multiannual Financial Framework cuts applied, it totals just over €220 million.

Analysis recently published by the Scottish Government highlighted how Scotland’s CAP payments were likely to compare to other European countries: