26 September 2018

Statement: Common Agricultural Policy

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): I declare that I have a small registered agricultural holding.

I sat next to Michael Gove at the Turriff show, and he promised me that the Scottish Government would be consulted on the UK Agriculture Bill and that the convergence review would go ahead.

Does the cabinet secretary have any information on who in the Conservative UK Government is blocking the very honourable promises that Mr Gove made to me and to the rest of us?

The Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy (Fergus Ewing): I am reminded of an old saying: just because we are sitting side by side does not mean that he is on our side.

I have sat opposite Mr Gove at numerous meetings and called on him to implement his publicly made pledge—a pledge that was welcomed by the Conservatives; indeed, they claimed credit for it. However, he has not delivered yet. There is substantial support from stakeholders, including the NFUS, tenant farmers and the Scottish Crofting Federation, for the review; I believe that they continue to support it.

The review must look back at what happened about our claim for £160 million, which our farmers and crofters should have received—they have been denied £14,000 per head. It is essential to allocate Scotland’s future share of funding, if Brexit goes ahead.

Next year, when we compare the amounts paid per hectare to farmers all over the European Union—we will include Scotland and the UK in that for the time being—we will see that the amount paid to Scottish farmers will be the lowest, not just in the UK, but in every single one of those 29 countries. Therefore, the review is essential. It is time that the Tories in London started to implement their promises, not break them.

Stewart Stevenson
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