Farming Industry

– in the Scottish Parliament on 21st September 2017.

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Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government currently implements the common agricultural policy in Scotland, using the flexibilities available in the European Union regulations to deliver a CAP that best supports Scotland’s farmers and crofters. Since being re-elected, the Scottish Government has developed and progressed a range of policies to help support Scotland’s farming industry, including paying around £65.5 million per annum in less favoured areas scheme payments, committing £99 million to 1,417 businesses under the agri-environment and climate change scheme since the scheme opened, and introducing initiatives such as the women in agriculture taskforce.

Photo of Peter Chapman Peter Chapman Conservative

I welcome “Ambition 2030” and its ambition to grow and double our food and drink industry by 2030. That could mean a great deal to our fantastic food and drink industry. However, the strategy does not mention a single policy providing support for profitability and the sustainability of our farmers. What is the Government doing to rebalance the food chain to ensure that the producer gets a fairer share of the consumer spend for their high-quality produce?

Photo of Gail Ross Gail Ross Scottish National Party

The chamber will be aware that convergence funding was earned in Scotland due to our average per-hectare rate, which brought the UK-wide average below the 90 per cent qualifying threshold. Has the Scottish Government received any guarantee from the UK Government that it plans to pass on the EU convergence uplift funding to Scotland?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

This is a very serious issue. The UK received £190 million because, and only because, Scotland’s farmers receive 45 per cent of the European Union average per hectare. That money was intended for Scotland and only for Scotland’s farmers, who received far less per hectare than any others farmers in the UK. Successive UK Government ministers have promised a review of that, but every single one of them has broken that pledge. When I raised the matter with Andrea Leadsom last October, she promised that she would reply quickly, but no reply has been received. Again, as members might expect, I will raise the matter with Mr Gove on Monday. That money is due to Scotland’s hill farmers. It is worth around £14,000 to each hill farmer in Scotland. That money was taken by the UK Government. It is Scotland’s money and we want it back.

Photo of Peter Chapman Peter Chapman Conservative

2. I remind the Parliament of my entry in the register of members’ interests.

To ask the Scottish Government what policies it is implementing to support the development and progression of the farming industry. (S5O-01276)

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Scotland’s food and drink sector promotes fine Scottish farm produce and wishes to see even more success in the sales of such produce. The Scottish Government and the sector work closely together.

Just yesterday I met the NFU Scotland president once again. It is a bit churlish not to recognise the good work that Scotland Food and Drink does.

As I said in last week’s debate on food and drink, we want farmers to receive more credit for their excellent work. They produce fine quality food and they are the custodians of our landscape.

When I meet Mr Gove on Monday, I will tell him that the lack of clarity about continued payment after 2019 to Scotland’s hill farmers—more than 12,000 of them—could, as I explained when I met him at the Royal Highland show in June, lead to thousands of hill farmers being forced out of business, which would be a catastrophe for Scotland. I hope that, at long last, the UK Government will start to do its day job on this matter and give some absolutely clear-cut assurances, for which hill farmers, particularly those in Scotland, have been waiting for far too long.