Scotland must be present at European farming talks
Scottish Ministers must be fully included in all future negotiations on the European Common Agricultural Policy, the SNP said today.
The demand came after every single respondent to a poll in Scottish Farmer said that they did not trust Westminster to effectively
represent their interests at EU talks.
The poll asked whether or not DEFRA would look after Scotland’s interests during the CAP discussions – 100% of respondents disagreed.
SNP MSP for South Scotland, Paul Wheelhouse, said today that the poll result sent a strong message to the UK government that the exclusion of Scottish Ministers from European talks is unacceptable to Scotland's farming community. He said:
“This is the clearest indication yet that Scottish farmers don’t trust Westminster to look after their unique interests in the forthcoming CAP negotiations.
“Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, has made it clear that not only is he ready and willing to take an active part in the discussions in order to represent the Scottish agriculture industry, but also that he is best placed to do so.
“DEFRA are not doing themselves any favours in the eyes of Scottish agriculture workers by excluding Scottish Ministers from the
negotiations. It is not too late for them to change their minds and do the responsible thing by letting the Scottish Government, who are responsible for rural affairs in Scotland, step in to put the strongest possible case for Scottish interests.
“The situation is fast approaching whereby Scotland will be forgotten and left out in the cold again in terms of European legislation. We cannot allow this to happen at a time when Scottish farm incomes are increasing but costs are rising. A balance must be found and the CAP negotiations are the ideal time to do this.
"If Westminster continue with their ridiculous insistence on excluding Richard Lochhead from the talks, they will not be forgiven by Scotland's farmers."