Banff & Buchan MP and SNP Westminster spokesperson on Agriculture Dr Eilidh Whiteford has spoken of the need for a fairer deal for Scottish farmers, after meeting with representatives of the National Farmers Union Scotland.
Dr Whiteford met with NFUS Vice Presidents Allan Bowie and Rob Livesey, and Director of Policy Johnnie Hall on Tuesday. The delegation had travelled to Westminster with the stated aim of lobbying for an equitable solution to Scotland’s poor level of CAP support.
Scottish farmers have traditionally received a much lower CAP support payment than the EU average - around €130 per hectare, against a European average of €196. As part of the recent CAP deal, the UK received additional money to deliver convergence, which would bring Scottish farmers into line with the European mainstream.
However, earlier this week, Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs, announced that Scotland would receive just 16% of the convergence uplift.
The remaining 84% will go to England, Wales and Northern Ireland where average payment rates per hectare are already €265, €247 and €339 per hectare. In the wake of the announcement, NFU Scotland have urged UK ministers to bring forward the first payments – worth around €11 million – to ensure a stable platform for Scottish producers.
Speaking after her meeting with the NFU, Dr Whiteford said that there was a clear and unambiguous case for Scotland’s farmers to receive a much better settlement.
She said: “It was a pleasure, as ever, to meet with representatives of the NFUS who have lobbied, very reasonably, for a greater share of the uplift. I am unequivocally supportive.
“The course of action pursued by the UK Government once again places Scottish producers at a competitive disadvantage, despite the huge importance of agriculture to the overall Scottish economy.
“The fact that our agricultural sector continues to be a success despite astonishingly low payments per hectare is testimony to the efforts of our producers, and no thanks to successive UK Governments who have negotiated a series of terrible deals for Scotland’s farmers.
“Once again, the lack of a distinctive Scottish voice in Europe has cost the country dearly.
“I will continue to campaign for a fair share of the CAP uplift monies for Scotland’s farmers, and am happy to support the NFUS on this topic.”