£160million due to Scottish Farmers is now to be paid. The announcement was made by the UK Chancellor, Sajid Javid, on Wednesday the 4th of September.
The Scottish Government has responded to the demands of the National Farmers Union of Scotland and stated that the money will be ring fenced for agricultural purposes.
An emergency meeting of NFU Scotland’s Board of Directors will discuss the Union’s preference in how it believes this massive uplift in funding should be allocated to best benefit Scottish farming and crofting. The Union will then raise the outcome of those discussions with Scottish Government.
NFU Scotland President, Andrew McCornick said:
“A fundamental wrong has finally been corrected.
“For the past six years, we have argued long and hard for the convergence funding injustice to be addressed.
“The long-standing view of NFU Scotland is that it was exclusively as a result of Scotland’s low CAP support payment rate per hectare that the UK was awarded the convergence uplift of £190 million in 2013 as part of the European reforms of the CAP. The UK Government chose to share this dividend across the whole of the UK based on historic allocations, seeing only £30 million awarded to Scotland, a decision that was deeply flawed.
“Today’s landmark announcement recognises the historic injustice in allocation of monies and, since 2013, numerous DEFRA Ministers have regularly attended NFUS events and promised a review.
“That review of future intra-government funding allocations, carried out by Lord Bew, is awaiting publication and it is our expectation that the forthcoming conclusions will ensure that fairness underpins any future funding settlement for agriculture from now and beyond Brexit.
“The £160 million represents the biggest single uplift in agricultural funding in memory and is a genuine victory for NFUS lobbying, supported by many other allies.
“In terms of how NFU Scotland believes the funding should be allocated, we will call an emergency meeting of our Board of Directors to finalise our views before discussing the outcomes further with the Scottish Government.
“This is a red-letter day for NFU Scotland lobbying.”
Local MSP John Finnie, Scottish Greens is keen to see some of the money being used to increase the funding to the Croft House Grant Scheme. He has written to Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Government’s Secretary for Rural Affairs where he acknowledges that Convergence Funding was not directly intended for schemes such as the Croft House Grant but suggested the increase flexibility in agricultural funding could help provide much needed support to crofters.
John Finnie said:
“Now that the Tories have admitted their theft and finally pledged to put it right, there is a real opportunity to provide vital support to crofters throughout the Highlands and Islands.
“The Croft House Grant Scheme has proven indispensable to many crofters and its expansion would allow the continuation of its good work. In times of deep political uncertainty we must not pass opportunities to provide crofters with the stability they need.”
Emma Harper, SNP MSP for the South of Scotland raised the issue of ringfencing the money by the UK Government in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 5th of September.
Emma Harper said:
“At long last, the United Kingdom Government is paying back the £160 million that it stole from Scottish farmers.
“Despite rural payments being the responsibility of the Scottish Government, which has already said that that cash will go straight to farmers, the UK Government has sought to decree how that money should be ring fenced.”
And she asked the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon:
“Does the UK Government’s seeking to dictate to Holyrood on spending represent the thin end of the wedge? Does the First Minister reject such attempts to erode the powers of the Scottish Parliament?”
She was assured that the Scottish Government “will continue to do the right thing by Scotland’s farmers.”
Fergus Ewing again emphasised that the money would be ring fenced to Scottish agriculture and he added:
“I want in particular to thank Jim Walker for his work on the Bew review helping to make Scotland’s case as only Jim could do. Of course, we only have the historic injustice addressed – there is still the matter of future funding allocations to be sorted. Westminster must deliver on that too!”
Reporter: Fiona Grahame
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