Borders hill farmers losing out on payments

Borders MP Calum Kerr speaking in the House of Commons.

Borders MP Calum Kerr speaking in the House of Commons.

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A better deal for Scottish farmers by the end of the year is being demanded by Borders MP Calum Kerr of the UK Government,

During the first DEFRA question time by the new Secretary of State Andrea Leadsom in the House of Commons last week, Mr Kerr, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh, and Selkirk, highlighted the money owed to Scotland from the European Union convergence fund.

The UK has benefited from the EU wide convergence scheme to equalise farm payments across Europe, but the UK government has not adjusted the amount of money that gets passed on to Scotland. The UK only qualified for the scheme because of Scotland’s historically low per hectare rates under Pillar 1 CAP funding. As a result it is estimated that around 230 million Euros is owed to Scottish farmers.

Commenting on the ongoing lack of dialogue from the UK government, Mr Kerr said: “It’s clear that this government often lacks resolve when it comes to living up to its rhetoric – but on this issue I hope that MPs and MSPs of all parties can come together on behalf of Scottish farmers and our rural economy.”

“For the UK government to renege on this commitment would be an outrageous breach of trust. It must not use the difficulties of Brexit to delay this any further.”

Mr Kerr has also written to farming minister George Eustice to remedy this “unjust” situation immediately.

Under the current regime as it stands Scottish farmers, including many Borders hill farmers, will have the lowest per hectare rate in Europe by 2019.

“This wholly unfair situation has dismayed the Scottish farming community, at a time when the UK Government ought to be mitigating uncertainty in the sector by offering a stable and secure framework for agricultural subsidies going forward,” Mr Kerr told the minister.

“Scotland’s farming sector deserves parity with counterparts throughout the UK and Europe. It remains incumbent on Mr Eustice and his Government to recognise this and deliver a fair outcome as a matter of urgency.”