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Michael Gove: ‘We cannot stick to status quo on agriculture funding’

Defra Secretary Michael Gove has dropped some hints at what might appear from the forthcoming Bew Review into farm funding.

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‘We cannot stick to status quo on ag funding’ - Gove

Lord Bew, a crossbench peer, has been tasked with looking at the highly controversial issue of distribution of funds within the UK after Brexit.

 

This has been a raw topic in Scotland since the row over internal convergence in 2013 saw 220 million euros of EU money being spread between the four UK home nations rather than it all coming to Scotland.

 

NFU Scotland has gained much political support for its view that the funds should have been used to boost Scottish area payments, which for the poorest land, are the lowest in the EU.

 

Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Scottish Conservative Conference in Aberdeen (May 3), Mr Gove said Scotland had needs which must be recognised and he eagerly awaited the publication of Lord Bew’s review.


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He said: "But it is always the case that the UK will allow for more money going to farming in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland than would be the case if the Barnett formula was used.”

 

Acknowledging that agricultural policy was devolved, Mr Gove said: “It is however inevitable that policies which I am responsible for in England will have an effect in the rest of the UK. We need to make sure that every part of the UK has the support it needs.

 

“I am disappointed that Scottish Government statements have been more about grievances and independence.

 

"The Agriculture Bill contains vision but it is also a vehicle which allows others to benefit.

 

"Northern Ireland, which has no government at the moment, and Wales have seen the benefits of being involved but the Scottish Government has spurned our generous offer. Its only defense is to stick to the status quo which I not find a compelling way forward.”

Mr Gove also spoke about the current area based Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which he saw as ’inherently flawed’.

 

NFUS director of policy Jonnie Hall agreed, saying: “Area based payments do not recognise actions required on the ground or the actions farmers and crofters are already taking to deliver on society’s needs.

 

“We are starting with a significant challenge within the CAP itself but the industry is constantly being bombarded with new challenges and some of those are very political.”

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