Secretary of State to facilitate meeting with Defra Farming Minister George Eustice
NFU Scotland has secured commitment from Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, for facilitation of a meeting with Defra Farming Minister George Eustice to discuss a review of the allocation of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) convergence money.
An unerring goal of NFU Scotland since 2013 has been to secure real movement on the allocation of the UK’s 230 million convergence dividend from the European Union (EU). Scotland, with the third lowest Pillar 1 [direct support]payment rate per hectare in the EU, was the reason why the UK received this dividend due to Scotland’s below average area payment rates. However, the UK Government chose to share this across the whole of the UK on the basis of historic allocations.
Following continuous lobbying, NFU Scotland was previously promised that this would be received once the new CAP was implemented.
Whilst it is not certain that a fully converged UK area-based payment would have meant all the UK dividend would have been allocated to Scotland, it is certain that it would have been far more than Scotland’s historic 16.3 per cent share.
As part of the Union’s lobbying activity, on September 7 a delegation from NFU Scotland’s Board of Directors met with MPs, amongst them Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell, to explicitly press for movement on the convergence issue.
As a result, the Secretary of State confirmed that he would facilitate a meeting between NFU Scotland and Defra Farming Minister George Eustice MP to begin talks on a review of the budget allocation of Pillar 1 support across the UK to address the convergence dividend issue.
NFU Scotland’s President Allan Bowie this week wrote to the Secretary of State to confirm the meeting. He said: “The Union believes that a 2016 review can speed up the process of re-allocating the convergence dividend and put Scottish farming in a stronger place ahead of the next CAP, which starts in 2020.
“Work is now in progress to get meetings set up in Scotland in October to maintain the momentum on this vital issue. At a time when overall reductions in CAP funding will continue to have a negative impact on Scottish farming, this extra funding would have had a significant positive effect.
“Since 2013, NFU Scotland has campaigned to have the allocation of Pillar 1 funds across the UK revised to reflect the fact that direct support payments are now largely area-based, not historic.
“NFU Scotland has previously called on the UK Government to deliver on the commitments made by three Defra ministers to hold a review of convergence in 2016, with a view to thereafter move to similar payments for similar land types across the UK as soon as possible. Now is the time for the UK Government to deliver on its promises.”