A review into the £160 million in Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding owed by the Tory UK Government to Scottish hill farmers is to be delayed.
Despite agreeing to conduct a review following pressure from the SNP Government, the UK Government has written to Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP informing him of the open ended delay.
Under the last CAP reform, the EU set out to redistribute direct payments more equally based on average Euros per hectare. The UK only qualified for a £190 million uplift because Scotland’s low payment rate per hectare, which brought the UK below the qualifying threshold. To date, the UK Government has only allocated around £30 million to Scotland, with the rest distributed across the UK, despite the money being earmarked by the EU for Scotland.
Mr Ewing said:
“This delay is completely unacceptable. Scottish hill farmers are owed £160 million, which the UK Government has repeatedly refused to deliver. I have been clear throughout that the money was earmarked for Scotland, and frankly should be delivered to Scotland.
“Our demand for the monies to be returned to Scotland is not against farmers in other parts of the UK. It is about setting a precedent for future agricultural funding within the UK.
“The lack of progress on this long-standing, unresolved issue is disappointing, particularly at a time when we are about to enter a range of complex and critical future funding discussions with the UK Government.
“Having already secured the review and agreed its independent chair, it is deeply frustrating to learn that the review is being kicked into the long grass.”
Kenneth Gibson added:
“As the Member State, the UK only qualified for an uplift because of Scotland, whose per hectare rate is only 45% of the EU average. England, Wales and Northern Ireland are all above the 90% qualifying threshold.
“Scotland is good enough to serve as the UK’s cash cow to bring in £190 million, but only receives £30 million. That is of course before these payments cease when we leave the EU, which 62% of Scots voted against. How does any of this make being part of the UK a good deal for Scottish farmers?
“This whole saga once again demonstrates the Tories’ cavalier attitude to both Scotland and the farming community it claims to hold so dear, whilst selling both out time and time again.”