Independence would benefit farmers

Scotland’s farmers ‘would gain a seat at the top of table’ under independence.

Independence will take Scottish farming from ‘bottom of the funding tables, to a seat at the top table’, according to Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.

In his annual speech to the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) AGM, held in St Andrews, Mr Lochhead highlighted how the UK Government has negotiated Scotland right to the bottom of the Common Agricultural Policy funding tables – with Scotland languishing right at the bottom of the league table for both direct farm payments and rural development funding, which also provides essential support for farmers.

Mr Lochhead said Scottish farming would be benefitting from €1 billion of extra support to 2020 had Scotland been independent during last year’s CAP negotiations – and that Scotland would also have been able to negotiate a multi-million euro uplift in rural development funding, as other nations have done.

Mr Lochhead said:

“Only with independence will we move from the bottom of the funding table to a seat at the top table – enabling us to get the best possible deal for Scottish farming and Scotland’s rural communities.

“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 effect our vital farming industry and the wider Scottish economy.

“As Scotland is not yet independent, our farmers are going to lose out on €1 billion of direct payments and hundreds of millions of euros of rural development funding. To add insult to injury the payments which have come to the UK, purely as a result of Scotland’s existing low per hectare payment, have been taken away from Scotland’s farmers despite strong cross-party and industry support for these monies to stay in Scotland.

“Post-independence, direct Scottish representation at the next CAP talks, which start in 2017, will greatly benefit our farming sector.”

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