Sunday, February 03, 2008

Our farmers need handouts insist Scots

Scotland's rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead said he will be pulling out all the stops to ensure the UK government is in no doubt of Scotland's desire to maintain support for farmers and crofters. Scotland will take a tough line over the issue, even if its policies diverge from those of the UK Government.

Mr Lochhead insisted that there was an ongoing need to support Scottish agriculture, especially livestock. Scotland was not happy to move away from support mechanisms at the same pace as the UK. Scotland has a strong EU representation through its Brussels office and a dissident voice could prove embarrassing for the UK in its efforts to reform the CAP.

There is a genuine issue about how Scotland can deliver environmental benefits without viable farm businesses. There is a substantial issue about remote, small-scale farming in the Highlands and Islands. However, a proper European rural policy could help Scotland more than the current CAP.

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