Saturday, 30 August 2014

Cameron must reverse policy on Westminster farming cash grab

Farming for YES challenge PM at Moffat Show

Farming for YES have called on Prime Minister David Cameron to use his expected visit to Moffat Show today [Saturday] to reverse his policy on Common Agricultural Policy funding and immediately return all of the €223 million “convergence” funding which was due to Scottish farmers, but most of which his Government instead diverted away from Scottish farming.

Convergence uplift payments are made to benefit those parts of the EU with the lowest per hectare payment rates. But the UK Government decision saw the full uplift withheld from Scotland and shared pro rata across the four nations of the United Kingdom. This was despite the UK only qualifying for this additional funding because of Scotland’s very low per hectare payment rates, and despite cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament, and widespread industry support for the funds to remain in Scotland.

Were Scotland already an independent member of the European Union, Scottish farmers would be set to benefit from an extra €1 billion over the next CAP programme, thanks to an EU rule that ensures no member state shall receive less than €196 per hectare by 2019.

Commenting, Farming for Yes Chairman, Neale McQuistin, said:

'David Cameron’s expected visit to Moffat Show is the perfect opportunity to announce that he is reversing his policy which has seen hundreds of millions of vital farm funding diverted away from Scottish agriculture.

'The funds only came to the UK because of Scotland’s low farm payments, yet he diverted the majority of them away from Scotland despite cross party support for the funds to remain in Scotland and despite a strong representation from the industry.

'He can today show that he at least occasionally listens to the needs of the Scottish farming industry by reversing the policy – or he can prove to be as deaf as the famous Moffat ram with no ears!

'David Cameron’s government negotiated a very poor deal for Scotland in the most recent CAP talks, which put Scotland at the very bottom of the European funding league tables. The very least they could then have done was pass on in full the €223 million convergence uplift. That they did not perfectly illustrates the poor deal Scotland gets from Westminster.

'We need to move away from the current political set up where Scotland is represented in vital European talks on farming, fishing and the environment by Conservative politicians we did not elect, and who negotiate poor deals for Scotland. With the powers of independence we will at last have a direct say in Europe and gain the powers to pursue our own priorities.'
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