As part of his annual speech to the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) the Cabinet Secretary highlighted the benefit the farming community will have from being represented at the top table of EU discussions. Presently, the farming industry in Scotland is represented in EU negotiations by ministers of the UK Tory/LibDem government at Westminster. With independence Scottish ministers would be able to negotiate directly on behalf of Scotland’s farmers and farming communities and ensure that their vital interests are represented directly at the EU level.
Richard Lochhead also 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. Scottish farming would have benefitted from €1 billion of extra support to 2020 had Scotland been independent during last year’s CAP negotiations.
Welcoming the comments by the Cabinet Secretary, Aileen McLeod said:
“Scotland’s farming industry has long suffered due to the action of the Westminster government which is meant to stand up for their interests in Europe. Had Scotland been independent, our farmers would be benefitting from an extra €1 billion in support between now and 2020.
“Instead our farmers are at the very bottom of the funding table of the entire EU. It’s a situation that is no longer tenable. Our farmers have put up with this for long enough and it’s clear to see that more and more involved in the industry, in Dumfries and Galloway and across the country, are joining Yes Scotland or pledging to vote Yes in September. Come the next round of CAP reforms in 2017 isn’t it better to have an independent Scotland at the EU negotiating table, able to negotiate in our own right, pursue our own priorities, influence the EU agenda and work together with our European partners on the challenges facing our farming and rural communities?
“Richard Lochhead’s comments are also a clear statement of intent. The Scottish Government is ambitious for Scotland and believes that Scotland as an independent member of the EU can use that status to advance our national interests, including those of our farmers.
“We can get a better deal for Dumfries and Galloway and our farming industry with a Yes vote on 18th September this year.”
Richard Lochhead said in his speech:
“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 affect 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.”
Notes to Editors:
The CAP funding tables showing Scotland’s position can be found here:
The Scottish Government paper “Scotland’s Future and Scotland’s Farming” illustrates how the powers of independence will deliver the best possible future for our farmers, crofters, wider agricultural businesses and rural communities. And can be found here :http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0043/00439271.pdf
Aileen McLeod has welcomed comments from the Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, highlighting how farmers across the country will benefit from independence.