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Defra must deliver 'fair' funding for agriculture to devolved regions

Pressure is being piled on Defra to clarify funding for the agricultural sector in the devolved regions as Brexit draws nearer.


Olivia   Midgley

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Olivia   Midgley
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Defra must deliver 'fair' funding for agriculture to devolved regions #Brexit

The UK Government has committed to the same level of agricultural support in this parliament but has so far failed to give any more detail on how that funding might be allocated across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

 

It came as the Farmers’ Union of Wales launched its ‘Fair Farm Funding’ campaign to ensure the industry did not receive less than it did before the UK left the European Union.

 

Critically, the funding must not be subject to the Barnett Formula, which central Government used to distribute monies according to population size.

 

FUW managing director Alan Davies said under the formula, Wales usually received about 5.6 per cent of the total money allocated.

 

If the UK Treasury matched the current EU payments to Defra of £3.5 billion to support UK agriculture, Wales would receive about £196 million.

 

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“Wales has historically received about 9.4 per cent of the total EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget allocation to the UK,” said Mr Davies.

 

“That would equate to £329 million. Barnett would reduce our funding by around 40 per cent and that must not happen.

 

“Wales urgently needs certainty that we will receive at least our historical share of the UK’s agricultural and rural development budget promised by Secretary of State Michael Gove, especially as the budget for next year needs to be in place by October this year.”

 

The calls were echoed by NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick, with the sector standing to lose about half the sum currently going to Scotland through the Barnett Formula.

 

“Under the CAP framework, Scotland receives 16 per cent of all the EU monies given to the UK to spend on agriculture and rural development,” said Mr McCornick.

 

“A significant concern of Scottish farmers and crofters is that, even if the UK Government maintains the quantum of funding going into UK agriculture after Brexit, the allocation of funding on a regional basis could be lessened, or be subject to the Barnett formula.

 

“It is the sort of ‘grab’ which NFUS believes must be avoided.”

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones and Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths have both recently reassured farmers by recognising agricultural funding will have to be held in a separate pot and ‘dealt with in a different way’.

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