McLeod calls on new UK Environment Secretary to “release Scotland’s farm fund”

SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod has written to the new UK Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss, to call on her to act immediately in returning cash to Scotland’s farmers.

The MSP wants the €223 million convergence uplift, that she says rightly belongs to Scotland’s farmers as it was only allocated to the UK because of Scotland’s low payments, returned.

She said: “I congratulate Ms Truss on her appointment and wish her well, but DEFRA’s policies have been at odds with Scotland’s priorities for agriculture and the environment for some time now and Scotland’s agriculture industry is suffering as a result.

“I hope she will take an early decision to release Scotland’s CAP convergence funds – the hundreds of millions of euros due to Scottish farming but grabbed by Westminster, despite cross-party support for those funds to stay in Scotland. The money must now be returned to Scotland and Ms Truss can ensure that happens.

“The UK Government negotiated a very poor deal for Scotland in the most recent CAP talks, which put Scotland at the very bottom of the European funding league tables. As if that was not bad enough, the UK Government then refused to pass on in full the €223 million convergence uplift that rightly belongs to Scotland’s farmers since it was only allocated to the UK because of Scotland’s low payments.

“I met with local NFUS representatives before Richard Lochhead’s Ministerial Statement on CAP Reform and I am very clear that the challenges facing this region are very significant indeed, in spite of his best efforts to soften the blow. It would be unacceptable therefore for the UK Environment Secretary not to take a similar approach and release much needed funds.

“We need to move away from the current political situation where Scotland is represented in vital European talks on farming, fishing and the environment by Conservative politicians we did not elect, who negotiate poor deals for Scotland.

“With the powers of independence we will at last have a direct say in Europe and gain the powers to pursue our own priorities. In the meantime the UK Government should do the right thing and release to Scotland the funding we are entitled to.”