DURING a Common Agricultural Policy debate in the Scottish Parliament, two South of Scotland MSPs argued that Scotland “needed a stronger voice in Europe” in what is “the number one issue for rural Scotland.
South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse, SNP, said: “The Common Agricultural Policy affects not only our farmers but the whole rural community in the Scottish Borders.
“Without the support provided by the Common Agricultural Policy, through direct payments, many of the successful farm businesses we have in the Scottish Borders would no longer be viable and much of Scotland’s land would be taken out of production.
“Scotland needs an independent voice in Europe, given that food and drink production is one of the great Scottish success stories under the stewardship of this SNP Government.”
Jim Hume, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for South Scotland and rural affairs spokesperson, described the Common Agricultural Policy as the ‘number one issue for rural Scotland’ and said: “All alterations of CAP ultimately will result in re-distribution, so the EU must bear this in mind and ensure that there is a transition period to allow businesses time to change.
“As part of that, if we do not have an agreed CAP for the end of the current arrangement in 2014, then a bridging mechanism must be in place.
“At the moment transition could potentially be used until 2019 – five years after proposed new CAP – but if the new CAP is late by a year or two, then enough flexibility should be installed so that the 2019 date is continued further into the future to allow five years of transition at least.”