Friday, 13 October 2017

Scottish Farmers Set to Lose Millions in 'Blatant and Shocking' Tory U-Turn

This became clear in a meeting between Secretary of State for Rural Affairs Michael Gove and SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP.

Despite promises to review it as far back as 2014 - reiterated in 2016 and 2017, Mr Gove said that neither he, nor the UK Government are committed to keeping those promises.

In January this year, in a parliamentary question, the then Tory agriculture minister George Eustice said ‘the Government is considering next steps on a review of the intra-UK allocation of the CAP budget.’

Now, Michael Gove has confirmed this is no longer the case. Ian Blackford has said this is a ‘blatant and shocking u-turn’ which shows that the Tories ‘are not to be trusted’.

In a letter to Michael Gove, Ian Blackford said it was extremely disappointing to hear that the UK Government will not keep the promise made to review the convergence uplift funding. He also sought clarity on comments made by Mr Gove that suggested that the money intended for Scottish farmers had in fact gone to Welsh, Northern Irish and English farmers instead – and he urged Mr Gove to reverse the decision, and end the injustice on Scotland's farmers.

Commenting, Ian Blackford MP said:

“Scottish farmers are set to lose £160 million in funding because the UK Government is breaking their its promise to review convergence uplifting funding.

“This is a blatant and shocking u-turn and totally unacceptable. It is another breach of trust from Michael Gove who must reverse the decision. He is once again showing the Tories are not to be trusted.

“The UK Government only received this convergence funding because the payment rates in Scotland were historically much lower than elsewhere in the UK and among the lowest in Europe. The money was provided to address this – it belongs to Scottish farming.

“Yet, when we met, Michael Gove suggested that the money had in fact been spent on Welsh, Northern Irish and English farmers and therefore now couldn’t be made available to Scottish farming.

“This is a shocking revelation. There is no doubt that farmers in other parts of the UK deserve their fair share of all EU funding too – but not at the expense of Scotland’s farmers and crofters for whom this convergence funding was originally intended.

“It is Michael Gove’s responsibility to find the money due to Scottish farmers and make good on previous UK Government promises. If not, how can rural Scotland possibly trust them to deliver a fair funding deal after Brexit.

“Indeed, this latest turn of events reinforces our call for powers and funding for agriculture and the environment to transfer to Scotland, so we can make decisions which are in the best interests of businesses, families and communities in our rural economy."
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