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South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed assurances from the First Minister that Independence will present a huge financial opportunity for Scottish farming and rural Scotland as a Yes vote means that an independent Scotland will be able to negotiate on its own behalf at the next round of EU Common Agricultural Policy talks when they begin in 2017.

Addressing the International Federation of Agricultural Journalist’s Congress, which is taking place in Aberdeenshire with delegates from 38 countries worldwide, Mr Salmond highlighted that Scotland could have received around €3.5 billion in additional European funding if Scotland has been independent during the most recent Common Agricultural Policy talks.

Mr Salmond also highlighted that farmers from many of the countries represented at the Congress were getting a better deal from EU farm and rural funds because they were able to negotiate on their own behalf in the crucial CAP talks.

With the negotiations on the next phase of the Common Agricultural Policy starting in 2017, Mr Salmond said it was absolutely vital for both Scottish farming and Scotland’s rural communities, that Scotland has a direct say in the talks and can negotiate on her own behalf – as opposed to be represented by Westminster politicians whose record of negotiating on Scotland’s behalf has resulted in Scotland being right at the bottom of the funding league tables for both farm payments and rural development payments.

South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine commented:

“In the most recent CAP negotiations Scotland was represented in the negotiations by UK Ministers who negotiated Scotland right to the bottom of the funding league tables out of 29 nations for both direct farm payments and rural development funding.

“Because the EU has a convergence process for farm payments, If Scotland had been independent during the most recent talks we would, by 2019, have received the standard minimum payment of €196 euros per hectare – resulting in an additional €1 billion of farm payments coming to Scotland between now and then.

“By 2019 Dutch farmers will receive €403 per hectare; Italian farmers will get €363, Danish farmers will get €332, German €298, Irish €261, Finnish €230, and Swedish €229. In contrast by 2019 Scottish farmers will get only €128 per hectare – the lowest payment in Europe.

“These are huge figures which our farming community and rural Scotland cannot afford to lose.  Indeed the Scottish Government calculate that had Scotland secured these funds the economic benefit would have created an additional 5,500 jobs.

“With independence Scotland can negotiate to get a much better deal for Scotland’s farmers and our rural communities  – with direct Scottish representation at the top table of the next CAP negotiations which begin in 2017.”