'We need this wrong righted': Farmers urge govt to hand over £190m dividend

NFU President Andrew McCornick said the convergence issue 'must be addressed'
NFU President Andrew McCornick said the convergence issue 'must be addressed'

Scottish farming leaders have met with Lord Bew to call for Scotland’s farm funding shortfall of almost £190 million to be rectified.

The Bew Review continues to take evidence on the convergence issue and how the UK government chose to distribute additional EU farm funding, received in 2013, to devolved administrations.

The divided of €223 million (£190m) came about as a result of Scotland’s low payment rate per hectare (approx. €130 per ha). The UK was awarded the sum in 2013 as part of EU CAP reforms.

Scotland’s below average area payment rates is around 45 per cent of the EU average. Consequently, the UK will receive the £190m over the period 2014 to 2020.

In a face-to-face meeting with Lord Bew on Monday 20 May, NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy Jonnie Hall and his team said the UK government's decision to share the dividend across the whole of the UK was 'fundamentally flawed.'

In the past six years, NFU Scotland has repeatedly called for, and received pledges from successive Defra ministers, that the decision would be subject to review.

That process is now under way. The union responded to Lord Bew’s Independent Review in writing in late April and the meeting on Monday provided the opportunity to reiterate points made in the submission in person.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said there was 'never a rational justification' for using historic allocations to distribute this uplift.

“The UK was given the uplift because of Scotland’s low payment rate and that should have meant that the money was paid to Scotland’s farmers and crofters,” he said.

“Now we have an opportunity to correct this long running sore and it needs to be addressed. We need this wrong righted.”

Mr McCornick added: “The outcome of this Review has the potential to set the factors that will determine how agricultural support is awarded across the UK in the future. Post-Brexit, a UK agricultural budget will be needed.”