Local MSP Maree Todd, SNP, has hit out at the UK Government’s admission that Scottish hill farmers and crofters will lose out to a Brexit power grab when the UK leaves the EU in 18 months time. The MSP made the comments after Scottish Office Minister Lord Duncan confirmed that Scottish sheep farmers should not be advantaged by any system replacing CAP.
New Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) figures show that Scotland would lose out on over €2bn in subsidies if CAP funding is replaced by UK-wide per capita funding because it has a much higher concentration of farmers and crofters.
Maree Todd said:
“Lord Duncan has shown a complete lack of understanding of the needs of Scotland’s rural economy, where there is a much higher concentration of farmers and crofters.”
“While the Scottish Government is not opposed in principle to agreeing UK-wide frameworks where powers are returning from Brussels, that must be agreed by mutual agreement. For the Tories to imply that the world would simply stop turning unless agriculture is controlled from Westminster is complete nonsense.”
Lord Duncan said:
“The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will cease to have effect on exit, but a common UK framework establishing the core principles of agricultural and farm support policy across the UK will be needed. It would not, for example, be acceptable for the Scottish Parliament to give significant subsidies to sheep farmers in Scotland which are not available to sheep farmers in England or Wales so allowing Scottish sheep prices unfairly to undercut other sheep farmers across the whole UK market.”
“For these reasons a core UK policy is needed to replace the existing EU CAP. Such a policy would not reduce the scope of the powers of the devolved legislatures but would simply replace existing EU powers (although ritual declarations that devolved parliaments’ prerogatives were being usurped might be expected). However, the content of the core UK agricultural policy would no doubt be the subject of negotiation between Westminster and the devolved legislatures and governments.”
Maree Todd commented:
““On the one hand the Tories say Scotland should use its devolved powers to mitigate Westminster’s welfare cuts, but on the other the prospect of the Scottish Government using its powers to subsidise its own sheep farmers is somehow wrong. This is complete double standards and we need to put a stop to the Tories’ continued attempts to centralise power in London to the detriment of our rural economy.
“It is clear the Tories cannot be trusted to act in the interests of Scotland’s farmers and crofters.”