Farmers face lowest pay deals in EU

Scottish farmers are at risk of having the lowest agricultural payments in the European Union (EU) as a result of new reforms, the environment secretary warned yesterday.

Richard Lochhead called for the UK government to press for a better deal for Scotland as crucial negotiations over the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for 2014-2020 approach.

CAP provides a two-pillar system of support for farmers, with pillar one providing direct subsidies to EU producers and pillar two financing rural development programmes.

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Addressing MSPs at Holyrood, Mr Lochhead said the budget for Scottish farmers was an area of concern. “We cannot condemn Scotland’s farmers to another decade of unfairly low CAP receipts,” he said.

“As I’ve said many times, Scotland has the fourth lowest payments per hectare in pillar one and the lowest in Europe in pillar two.”

Mr Lochhead said there was “a real risk that after this reform, Scotland could have the lowest payments in Europe” in both pillars. “The UK government shouldn’t allow that to happen – but our difficulty is that they are fixated on budget-cutting, not budget fairness,” he said.