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'Fair and transparent' - radical farm funding reforms on horizon in Scotland

If recommendations made by the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee are taken up they could lead to a radical reform in farm funding.

 

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'Fair and transparent' - radical farm funding reforms on horizon in Scotland

Presenting the final report (Wednesday, July 31), committee chairman Pete Wishart MP said the cross party group were proposing that the proportion of Less Favoured Area (LFA) land in each country should be a major factor in deciding how much farm support it would receive.

 

If this was carried out it would mean a massive redistribution within the UK.

 

Scotland has 86 per cent of its land designated as LFA while England only has 18 per cent.

 

Wales has 81 per cent of its land as LFA and Northern Ireland 69 per cent.

 

But such is the size of Scotland it has 56 per cent of the UK’s LFA and could therefore expect a huge influx of funds.

 

While acknowledging that the findings of the yet-to-be published Bew Review into inter-UK funding allocation would have a bearing on this, Mr Wishart and his colleagues noted that Scotland had lost out badly on the allocation of funding because it was based on historic values and not on the country’s ’unique agricultural practices and conditions’.

 

Having referred to ’drastic underfunding in Scotland’, Mr Wishart added: “We recommend the Government works with the devolved administrations to develop a new fair and transparent funding arrangement which meets the needs and individual circumstances of all the UK nations post Brexit.


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Mr Wishart welcomed evidence given to the committee by then Defra Secretary Michael Gove who had confirmed that the distribution of funds within Scotland would be decided by the Scottish Government alone.

 

The common frameworks designed to protect the internal UK market would not be imposed but agreed by consensus, Mr Gove had said.

 

The Scottish Affairs Committee also called for agricultural support budgets to be set on a seven year basis with a half term review.

 

Mr Wishart said the committee had paid particular attention to the labour situation in Scotland and the importance of migrant workers.

 

“The £30,000 salary cap is completely inappropriate for agriculture , food processing and catering and should be scrapped immediately," he said.

 

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