SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod today (Monday) welcomed a new poll by The Scottish Farmer showing that 47% of respondents will vote Yes in the Scottish independence referendum.
The poll comes further to another Scottish Farmer poll in November which showed that 74% of respondents believed they were more likely to vote Yes in next year’s independence referendum after Defra’s convergence decision.
Last week Dr McLeod ascertained though parliamentary questions that rural Scotland is set to lose £850 million over the next five years due to the UK Government’s failure to negotiate a decent settlement for farmers.
Dr McLeod commented:
“This is a great poll result which shows that farmers are leading the way in the movement towards a Yes vote in the referendum on September 18, with more and more farmers moving towards voting Yes.
“We already knew that the UK Government has let down rural Scotland badly when it failed to negotiate any extra resources for rural development – unlike any of the 16 other European member states that did so. In addition to which, the direct payments to farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy will be the lowest of anywhere in Europe.
“This isn’t just a bad deal – it is a uniquely, comprehensively bad deal for Scotland’s farmers in every respect and today the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs was able to put a price tag on it.
“Over the next five years, Scotland will lose out in direct funding of £850 million. That is support that Scotland’s farmers could have had if we were able to negotiate with Europe for ourselves.
“In addition to this there is the negative impact on the rural economy of all of that lost revenue, which the Scottish Government estimates will cost another £500 million and 2500 jobs. That is the dividend the UK Government is paying Scotland’s farmers and rural economy.
“If Scotland was already a Member State it would have benefited from EU rules that all Member States reach average payments of €196 per hectare by 2019. That translates to an extra €1 billion of support coming to Scotland over the Common Agricultural Policy convergence period. Instead Westminster Ministers have negotiated Scotland to the bottom of the CAP funding league.
“Only with a Yes vote this year and the full powers of an independent country can we negotiate with Europe on our own behalf and deliver the finances Scotland’s farmers and rural economy need.”
“In September we have a choice of two futures. It’s becoming increasingly clear that a Yes vote is needed for Scotland’s rural communities.”
Poll in today’s Scottish Farmer – p8
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
Dr McLeod’s questions and the Cabinet Secretary’s answers are below:
Common Agricultural Policy Budget 2014-20
6. Aileen McLeod (South Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what impact the agreed common agricultural policy budget 2014 to 2020 will have on South Scotland. (S4O-02772)
The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment (Richard Lochhead): We are, of course, very disappointed by the agricultural budget allocation, which has left Scotland at the bottom of European Union funding tables for both pillar 1, which is the direct payments to farmers, and pillar 2, which is the rural development funding that supports our local communities. The United Kingdom Government let us down badly. It failed us in the budget negotiations in Europe, particularly when, unlike 16 other member states, it did not negotiate extra resources for rural development.
Various agricultural sectors are represented in South Scotland, from mainly dairy in the south-west to cereals and general cropping in the south-east, to name but a few, and all will suffer as a result of that dreadful decision.
Aileen McLeod: Given that Ireland—a country of a similar size to Scotland—will receive twice as much pillar 1 funding as Scotland and seven times as much pillar 2 funding per hectare, can the cabinet secretary tell me how our farmers and rural communities across Dumfries and Galloway will stand to benefit from future CAP negotiations in an independent Scotland, in which we will be able to speak up for ourselves in Europe and will not have to let a United Kingdom Government with different priorities speak for us and therefore negotiate a comparatively worse deal for Scotland?
Richard Lochhead: The funding formula that has been agreed in Europe for the agricultural budget that is in place for 2014 to 2019 applies to all member states. Had Scotland been an independent member state at the negotiations, the formula would have delivered an extra €1 billion—that is £850 million—between 2014 and 2019. Our initial estimates show that we have lost out on the addition of half a billion pounds to Scottish gross domestic product and around 2,500 jobs by 2019. That huge missed opportunity for Scotland comes from our not being a member state of Europe, and it shows why it is in the interests of every farmer and crofter and all our rural communities to vote yes in September.