Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed comments from the Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP, highlighting how farmers across the country will benefit with independence.
As part of his annual speech to the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) Richard Lochhead highlighted the benefit the farming community will receive from being represented at the top table of EU discussions. Currently, the farming industry in Scotland is represented by ministers of the Tory/LibDem Government in London with ministers from Scotland shut out of meetings.
The Rural Affairs Secretary also highlighted how the UK Government has negotiated Scotland to the very bottom of the Common Agricultural Policy funding tables – with Scotland languishing in league tables for both direct farm payments and rural development funding, which also provides essential support for farmers.
Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Only with independence will we move from the bottom of the funding tables to a seat at the top negotiating table – enabling us to get the best possible deal for Scottish farming and Scotland’s rural communities alike.
“Instead of having UK Ministers negotiate on Scotland’s behalf – UK Ministers who want to eventually see an end to direct farm payments - Scotland can negotiate on her own behalf at the crucial EU negotiations that affect our vital farming industry and the wider Scottish economy.”
Welcoming the comments Stewart Stevenson said: “Scotland’s farming industry has long suffered due to the actions of all Westminster governments who systematically fail to represent Scottish agricultural interests.
“Had Scotland been independent during last year’s CAP negotiations, our farmers would be benefitting from an extra €1 billion in support between now and 2020.
“Farmers in Banffshire & Buchan Coast and all across Scotland need not put up with this second class status any longer. Following a Yes vote in September we can look forward to no less than full parity with our neighbours across Europe at the next EU CAP negotiations, which start in 2017.”