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Secretary of State Urged to Honour CAP Convergence Commitment

NFU Scotland has called on the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Liz Truss MP, to honour a Defra commitment to review UK CAP budget allocations in 2016.

Meeting with the Secretary of State at the Royal Highland Show, currently being held at Ingliston, near Edinburgh, NFU Scotland reminded the Minister that three previous and existing Ministerial colleagues – Owen Paterson, Jim Paice and George Eustice – agreed to undertake a review of budgets with regards to meeting Europe’s vision for convergence.

With nations around Europe currently in the process of putting a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in place, scheduled to run until 2020, the CAP political agreement of June 2013 started a process designed to move EU Member States and administrative regions towards fairer CAP budgets. As part of this, a budget convergence process has begun looking to shift area-based payments towards an EU average (of €196 per hectare) by 2020.

Largely as a result of Scotland receiving the third lowest payment rate per hectare in Europe - an average of approximately €130 per hectare - the EU gave the UK a convergence dividend of €230 million in 2013.  However, rather than delivering on Europe’s vision for convergence, the UK government opted to share the convergence uplift across all parts of the UK in line with existing budget shares.

Speaking after meeting the Secretary of State, NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie said: “There is no argument that Scotland’s lowly area payment rate was the sole reason for the UK receiving the convergence dividend in 2013.

“However, the UK Government’s decision to ignore Europe’s aims for convergence has left Scotland languishing with some of the lowest area payment rates in Europe and denied the Scottish farming sectors funding that would have not only assisted primary producers but the many ancillary industries it supports.

“We firmly believe that hill farmers in the Highlands should receive area-based support on a par with those farming the same type of land in the Lake District and arable producers in Berwickshire have access to similar levels of support to those farming equivalent land across the Border in Northumberland.

“That is Europe’s vision and it is one that we believe the UK Government must accept.  In the past, three former and current Ministers have committed to review the UK budget allocations in 2016 and we want Liz Truss to deliver on that commitment thereafter moving to ensure similar payments for similar land classes are delivered across the UK as soon as possible.

“For this review to proceed in an objective and non-discriminatory manner, robust and impartial research must be undertaken to establish the criteria for an assessment of similar land classes across the different parts of the UK.  We believe that having this information ready ahead of the 2016 review would speed up the process of re-allocating the convergence dividend and put Scottish farming in a stronger place ahead of next CAP, which starts in 2020.

“The General Election brought significant changes to Scotland’s representation in Westminster.  We have taken this opportunity to brief all Scottish MPs on the significance of the budget review. It was also top of the agenda when we met with the new Scottish Secretary of State David Mundell at the Highland Show this week. Their support for a review would build on the cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament last year for 100 percent of the convergence dividend to be allocated to Scotland to start to address our very low payment rate per hectare.

“If Scotland had been awarded 100 percent of the convergence dividend, it would have had access to an extra €11 million in 2014, rising to an extra €64 million in 2019. At a time when overall reductions in CAP funding are negatively affecting Scottish farms and their supply chain, this extra funding would have had a significant positive effect.”

Notes to Editors

  • NFU Scotland met with Secretary of State Liz Truss at the Royal Highland Show, taking place at Ingliston, near Edinburgh from 18 to 21 June.  Issues raised included:
    • To ensure that the decision on CAP convergence monies is reviewed as promised in 2016/17, starting as soon as possible to establish equivalent land classes across the UK that could be used to reconcile monies when it comes to the review period.
    • To ensure that stronger inter-governmental working is enshrined in the forthcoming Scotland Bill and that Scottish agricultural interests are given a voice in EU and international negotiations.
    • The importance of strengthening the role of the Groceries Code Adjudicator to push food and supply chain issues further up the agenda and to ensure fairness.
    • To ensure Scottish food and drink remains a key element of UK export developments and that trade agreements such as TTIP do not negatively impact on the Scottish agriculture or its food and drink manufacturing sector.
    • To discuss arrangements for the proposed in/out referendum on EU membership.
    • To discuss Scottish farming’s access to new and developing technologies to ensure it can be as competitive and efficient as possible

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006
 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 118/15


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