SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod said this week that the UK Government’s failure to negotiate on behalf of Scotland’s agriculture sector stands to cost the industry at least £850 million over the next five years.
Dr McLeod asked the cabinet secretary for rural affairs, Richard Lochhead, to estimate the likely impact of the EU agricultural budget allocation for 2014-2020, which has seen the UK end up with the lowest Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments anywhere in Europe.
Commenting after question time on Thursday, Dr McLeod said: “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.
“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.”