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Lochhead's freedom bonus

SCOTLAND'S FARMING sector would be £250million better off as an independent nation in Europe, it was claimed this week

Richard Lochhead
Richard Lochhead

Pulling a rabbit out of the hat during his keynote address to this week's NFU Scotland agm in St Andrews, CabSec Richard Lochhead said his officials had previously calculated that Scotland's CAP 'independence bonus' would be around £150m – but that last week's CAP budget deal had potentially added another £100m to that total.

The budget deal, he explained, allowed any EU country receiving below 90% of the average €196 a hectare area payment – equivalent to £156 a hectare – to close that gap between 2014 and 2020.

As Scotland was well behind that per hectare average – and being kept there by Defra's determination to diminish direct agricultural support – independence from Westminster would set the scene for a major rebalancing, he claimed.

Said Mr Lochhead: "According to our initial calculations, if Scotland were a member state, under this deal we would stand to gain an additional £250m – a quarter of a billion pounds – per year by 2020.

"Unfortunately, being part of the UK for this negotation has cost Scottish agricultural and rural communities up to three quarters of a billion over the life of the new CAP. If only we had been able to negotiate for ourselves!"

Because of the lack of UK Government enthusiasm for direct support, Mr Lochhead said he was 'deeply worried' about the council of ministers discussions towards a final CAP reform deal, where Scotland's needs would be in the hands of Defra Secretary of State Owen Paterson.

n Mr Lochhead announced that the Scottish Government is to put up £2m over the next two years to support new farming entrants. In the same vein, he said Forestry Commission Scotland would be letting out two new starter farms at Rynaclach, Aberfoyle, and Kirkmichael, Ayrshire.

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