CONSERVATIVE MEP FOR SCOTLAND

Succesful CAP Debate Hosted in Parliament

ECR Rural Economy Policy Group, chaired by Ian Duncan MEP, hears from Commission and Council on Climate Change and Agriculture, CAP Reform and a possible investigation by the Commission into Scottish Government Farm Payment Crisis.

01.03.2016.

During a meeting today of the ECR Rural Economy Policy Group, chaired by Ian Duncan, the European Commission admitted that it will investigate reports that the Scottish Government could be fined if they fail to make Basic Payments to farmers on time. This follows newspaper comments made by former NFUS President Jim Walker, who raised concerns that the EU could impose fines of up to £100 million if deadlines were not met.

Hosting the event, Ian Duncan sat alongside NFUS Vice-President Rob Livesey and Dermot Ryan of Commissioner Hogan's Cabinet and Monique Remmers of the Dutch Council Presidency. As well as questioning whether the Scottish Government were in danger of failing to meet their obligation to deliver payments by 30th June; to which the Commission pledged to investigate and report back to Ian as quickly as possible, the room heard about how climate change and COP21 targets will affect agriculture and why in any reform, CAP should reward work and not area.

The development on the farm payment dabcle follows an admission from Nicola Sturgeon at First Ministers Questions last week that farmers could have to wait until June for their payments, despite Farming Minister Richard Lochhead promising they would be delivered in December.

Commenting Ian said

"No one wants fines, but if the Scottish Government is at risk of failing to meet the deadline, we need to know now. Farmers must be asking themselves just what is going on. First they were promised payments in December, only for Mr Lochhead to pay 18 percent of them a less than their due payment on Hogmanay. Then Hill and Sheep farmers were told they would not receive their money on time due to the backlog . Now we hear that the Scottish Government's sheer incompetence could lead to more costs for Scottish taxpayers. This is on top of the £200 million they have already spent on the IT system. Last week Ruth Davidson called upon the First Minister to step in and take personal charge. Frankly that is something else long overdue."

NFUS Vice-President Rob Livesey added

"Money needs to be paid out as soon as possible.  If the Commission could remove the fear of fines, the Scottish Government could make an interim payment based on their best estimate, and pay the balance once all the required checks are made.  There is a real crisis within the rural sector at the moment; it's not just about farmers but the many businesses along the supply chain who are struggling with outstanding debts. The Scottish Government needs to do whatever it can to take some pressure off Scottish farmers and farm businesses."