IN A face-to-face meeting with Lord Bew, who is chairing the current 'Review of Intra-UK Allocation of Domestic Farm Funding', NFU Scotland has asked that he 'right the wrong' of Scotland’s £190 million farm funding shortfall.

The union's director of policy, Jonnie Hall, met with Lord Bew and his team in London as the 'Bew Review' continued to take evidence on the convergence issue and how the UK Government chose to distribute additional EU farm funding, received in 2013, to devolved administrations.

Over the past six years, NFUS has repeatedly called for, and received pledges from successive DEFRA ministers, that the 2013 decision would be subject to review – and that process is finally under way. The union's long-standing view is that it was exclusively as a result of Scotland’s low CAP support payment rate per hectare (approx. €130 per hectare) that the UK was awarded the convergence uplift in 2013 as part of the European reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The clear reason why the UK received this dividend was directly linked to Scotland’s below average area payment rates – about 45% of the EU average – and consequently, the UK will receive an extra €223 million (or about £190 million) over the period 2014 to 2020. The UK Government chose to share this dividend across the whole of the UK based on historic allocations, a decision NFUS insists was 'fundamentally flawed'.

Commenting after being briefed on the London meeting, president Andrew McCornick said: “There was never a rational justification for using historic allocations to distribute this uplift. The UK was given the uplift because of Scotland’s low payment rate and that should have meant that the money was paid to Scotland’s farmers and crofters. Now we have an opportunity to correct this long running sore and it needs to be addressed. We need this wrong righted.

“The outcome of this review has the potential to set the factors that will determine how agricultural support is awarded across the UK in the future. Post-Brexit, a UK agricultural budget will be needed.

“NFUS continues to pursue a clear commitment from the UK Government for a future ring-fenced, multi-annual agricultural budget for Scotland of at least the same quantum as now. And taking cognisance of the shortfall created by the inappropriate allocation of the previous uplift.”