ON A visit to an Aberdeenshire farm, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that the UK Government will accept the funding recommendations of the Bew Review into intra-UK agricultural funding, and bring a further £51 million into Scottish agriculture over two years, on top of the £160 million convergence funding announcement made in the Chancellor’s spending review on Wednesday – the biggest cash injection in recent memory.

The terms of the Bew review were to ensure that funding for domestic farm support is fairly allocated across the UK between 2020 and 2022. Agreement to carry out that review followed a six-year campaign by NFUS for the convergence funding 'injustice' to be addressed. As far as the union was concerned, it was exclusively as a result of Scotland’s low CAP support payment rate per hectare that the UK was awarded the convergence uplift of £190 million in 2013, and the UK government's decision to share this dividend across the whole of the UK – with only £30 million awarded to Scotland – was therefore deeply flawed.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick, vice president Charlie Adam and chief executive Scott Walker met with the Prime Minister during his trip north, and were assured that he accepted the recommendations of the Bew Review, and Scottish farmers will receive an extra £51.4m over the next two years, in addition to the £160m allocated in the Chancellor’s Spending Round.

NFUS now understands that the funding will come to Scotland in the next financial year, which commences in April 2020, and its board will discuss the funding announcement at its forthcoming September meeting. Aside from Bew, the meeting also gave the Union a platform to discuss Brexit-led tariff and trade deal concerns with the Prime Minister.

Speaking after meeting the Prime Minister, Mr McCornick said: “On top of the Chancellor’s welcome announcement in his spending review that Scotland is to receive £160 million in convergence funding, we welcome the positive outcome of the Bew Review into future funding allocations and Government’s speedy response to the review’s recommendations.

“Taken together, the two announcements will inject £211 million into Scottish agriculture over the next two years. At a time of uncertainty, that represents the largest funding uplift for the sector in recent memory.

“Securing a fair agricultural funding settlement that recognised the flaws in the historic approach has been a priority for NFU Scotland for six years," he stressed. "We thank Lord Bew for undertaking this review and his conclusions on how agricultural funding should be allocated. We also thank former NFUS president Jim Walker for the tenacity he showed as the Scottish representative on the Bew review group, and the significant contribution he has made to ensuring future agricultural spending fairly represents the convergence settlement.

“Settling the issue around convergence comes at a time when we are weathering a political storm and many sectors of Scottish farming and crofting are enduring significant price and cost pressure. We want our industry to come out the other side of the current turmoil and this huge uplift in funding will help us build greater resilience into our farming and food sectors.”

Commenting on future trade and tariff arrangements, NFUS chief executive Scott Walker said: “Central to our future fortunes are our trading arrangements. As the UK sets out to strike its own trade deals, we pressed the case for these to respect the high production standards that Scottish farmers are asked to meet.

“It would be unacceptable for us domestically to produce to higher standards and then allow lower standard products into the UK. We have the ambition to double the size of the farming, food and drink industry in Scotland to £30 billion. We want to be able to export but we must ensure that products coming into the UK are equal to the standards to which we produce," said Mr Walker.

“We also raised our concern about the UK proposed tariff schedule. We should not be unilaterally cutting tariffs on some imported products as this will take away one of our key negotiation levers and place our farmers at a severe disadvantage. If the EU insists on imposing tariffs on Scottish farm products, then we should be doing the same in return. We have demanded that the UK reconsider its proposed tariff schedule.”