The UK Government has confirmed that the present arrangements, where farmers in Scotland receive more money than their population share, will continue as we leave the EU.
Announcing an independent review into how agriculture funding is distributed in the UK in future, the Secretary of State for Environment, Michael Gove MP confirmed that future arrangements will not simply apply the Barnett formula for funding. This means that farmers in Scotland will not just be allocated funding according to the population size of each nation. Funding will instead reflect the need for support, as well as each country’s individual circumstances. Currently, Scottish farmers do well out of this arrangement.
The review, to be led by Lord Bew, will include representatives from each devolved administration.
The UK Government has already confirmed that overall funding for UK farm support will be protected in cash terms to the end of the Parliament in 2022, meaning UK farmers have more certainty than any other EU member state.
Over the past few months, the SNP have claimed that Scottish farmers were being short changed by the UK Government over the distribution of so called ‘convergence uplift’.
However, under the current arrangement, Scottish farmers receive twice as much funding as they would if the UK Government distributed funds based on population sizes. The decision to allocate EU funding based on the UK’s own rules instead of the EU’s also meant that in the last round of structural funding, Scotland received an extra €230 million. This money was used by the Scottish Government for a range of projects from improving broadband to funding the Galashiels Interchange Building.
Welcoming the announcement of the review, John Lamont MP said: “Farmers in the Borders should be reassured by this further guarantee from the UK Government.
“The overall amount of support given to farmers will continue until 2022, which is later than if we were staying in the EU. Now the UK Government has confirmed that the current arrangement, which sees Scottish farmers receiving far more than their population share of funding, will also continue.
“As usual, the SNP have sought to create a grievance out of the issue of the convergence uplift. Thanks to the intervention of me and my Scottish Conservative colleagues, the UK Government has agreed to look at this matter again and see if there is a better way to allocate this money within the UK.
“However it is clear that Scotland has in the past done very well out of the allocation of EU funding. Already Scottish farmers receive twice as much money as they would if the usual funding rules were applied. And in the last allocation of EU Structural Funds, which are used for things like job creation and connectivity, Scotland received €228 million more than they would have if the EU’s funding formula was applied.”
Rachael Hamilton MSP also said: “Once again we are seeing the Scottish Government and the SNP MPs seek political division rather than stand up for the needs of Scottish farmers.
“I am pleased that the UK Government have committed to giving this preferential treatment to Scottish farmers who in many cases can have very different needs to their counterparts elsewhere. The independent review with representatives from the devolved nations will also lead to fair funding well into the future.
“Similar to the Agricultural Bill which was supported by the NFUS, we are seeing that the SNP are making political football out of our rural areas when in reality it is the UK Government delivering for the farmers of Scotland.”