Sunday, 28 February 2016 12:48

SNP press Tories over lifeline EU payments

Written by

Government ministers in London need to come clean on what will happen to Scotland’s farmers if the UK votes to leave the EU, the SNP’s Westminster Rural Affairs Spokesperson, Calum Kerr said today, further to Tory Farming Minister George Eustice deciding to campaign in favour of the UK leaving the EU.
 
 Mr Kerr told DEFRA in a face-to-face meeting that keeping farmers in the dark about a future without the Common Agricultural Policy was no longer sustainable.


 
 After talks with Farming Minister George Eustice in Whitehall, the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP said: “The truth is that the UK Government has refused to give our farming communities any information about the future of the support payments they’ll receive if we’re out of Europe.
 
 “This can’t go on any longer. The vote is now just a few short months away and we need to know if the Common Agricultural Policy will be funded by the UK Government in the event of a Brexit or if it will be replaced by something else.
 
 “It’s a critical issue - CAP support in Scotland is worth around £4 billion in the period from 2015 to 2020.  The stark truth is that without this, some 70 per cent of farmers here in Scotland would lose their livelihoods.
 
 “I made this absolutely clear to George Eustice. He and his department need to come clean and tell us what their plans are.”
 
 Mr Kerr continued: “It simply isn’t viable for the minister to say we’ll have to wait until the result of the referendum in June before he’ll reveal what will happen.
 
 “Like all other businesses, farmers need to plan for the future and invest. They can’t do that if they don’t know what support payments they’ll receive, how they’ll be calculated or where they’ll be coming from.
 
 “They need a better deal than this and I hope that after hearing my arguments, George Eustice and his DEFRA colleagues will see reason and spell out what their plans are in the event of a Brexit.”
 
 Mr Eustice, who is MP for the Cornish seat of Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, is a Eurosceptic and former UKIP supporter who has publicly come out in favour of leaving the EU. His boss, DEFRA Secretary of State Liz Truss, is on the opposite side, campaigning for In.