SNP needs to end uncertainty over financial help for disadvantaged farmers


The SNP has been accused of backtracking on a financial commitment to help disadvantaged farmers.


The full amount of the National Reserve, a fund to help farming’s new entrants, is yet to be announced by the Scottish Government.


New entrants were disadvantaged under the old Single Farm Payment, which was based on historic receipts rather than area.


The National Reserve, a section of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), is meant to redress this problem, topping up these disadvantaged farmers to a national average.


This is to be paid for by taking three per cent of the amount given by the EU used to fund direct payments to farmers, known as pillar one of the CAP.


However, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead stated in June that he accepted the National Reserve “needs to be substantially bigger than the standard three per cent as a quid pro quo. Stakeholders support this.”


The NFUS recently voiced farmers’ discontent over this “information vacuum”.


The Scottish Government must tell Europe how much money it intends to put in the National Reserve by January 31 next year.


Scottish Conservative rural affairs spokesman Alex Fergusson MSP said:


“The Scottish Government is keeping Scottish farmers in the dark at a time when transparency is critical.


“They now appear to be backpedalling on the announcements made in June.


“Thousands of farmers are currently operating with no subsidies at all and the National Reserve is key to ensuring they receive financial support.


“Having spent years failing to persuade Scottish farmers that all their problems would be solved by independence, the Scottish Government must urgently clarify its plans.


“The Scottish Government has a moral duty to inform the sector of the details of CAP support as soon as possible.”