Falkirk District’s farmers to benefit with independence
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 14:48
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has welcomed comments from the Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, highlighting how farmers across the country will benefit with independence.
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 by ministers of the Tory/LibDem government in London at meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg, with ministers from Scotland shut out of the meetings.
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, Angus MacDonald said:
“Scotland’s farming industry has long suffered due to the action of the Westminster government who is meant to represent them. Had we been independent, our farmers would be benefitting from an extra €1 billion in support between now and 2020.
“However, our farmers are currently at the bottom of the EU funding table. It’s a situation that is no longer tenable. Our farmers have put up with this for long enough. We can get a better deal for Falkirk district’s farming industry with a yes vote next September.”
Cabinet Secretary Richard 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.”