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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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New Scottish Secretary Totally Failing to Fight for Scotland's Farmers

Monday, 25 November 2013


LETTER SHOWS CARMICHAEL OUT OF TOUCH WITH SCOTTISH FARMING

In advance of tomorrow’s debate in Westminster Hall on the Common Agricultural Policy convergence uplift, secured by SNP Agriculture spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, the Westminster government has sent a letter to Scottish MPs defending the decision to deprive Scotland’s farmers of what had been agreed would be their due to the amount of 230 million Euros. The letter to all Scottish MPs came from the new Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael.

Dr Whiteford commented :

"This letter shows that just a few weeks into his job Mr Carmichael has become Westminster’s man in Scotland rather than representing Scotland’s interests. When he says in his letter it is his view that this is a ‘fair and positive package‘ for Scotland’s farming communities, it simply beggars belief. He is only echoing what his Tory counterpart at DEFRA told me last week when he said in answer to a question from me that Scotland is ‘getting more than its fair share’ - which astonished the farming community.

“Instead of standing up Scottish farming, Alistair Carmichael is standing up for Owen Paterson - his priorities are all wrong.

“There has been cross-party consensus in the Scottish Parliament that the convergence uplift must come to Scotland, yet UK Ministers have shown again today they are simply not listening, and worse Mr Carmichael is happy to follow his Tory leaders. My debate tomorrow gives them an opportunity to reconsider their head in the sand approach, listen to their own colleagues in Scotland, and put the convergence plans into action now, rather than wait until 2016.

“When I met Scottish farmers leaders last week in Westminster they expressed deep concern about the way the UK Government is short changing Scottish farmers over CAP support, and Mr Carmichael’s letter will only add to that concern. The UK only qualified for the convergence uplift because Scotland has fallen so far behind the rest of the UK and Europe in terms of area payments per hectare. The UK has received an uplift of 230 million Euros in its CAP funding allocation because of the historically low rates of support per hectare paid in Scotland compared to farmers in other parts of the UK. However rather than use the uplift for its intended purpose, the UK government has divided the extra funding across the UK, depriving Scottish farmers of what is due to them.

“Thanks to the Tory-Liberal coalition, Scotland now languishes at the bottom of the European table in both direct payments and Rural Development Funding, and the convergence uplift is intended to create a more level playing field for Scotland’s farmers. Once again Westminster cannot be trusted.

"Mr Carmichael’s letter makes it clearer than ever that a Yes vote next year offers the best solution for Scotland’s farming and rural communities."

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