Farm Payments Deal Still Threat To Scotland’s Farmers

19 March 2007
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today called on Lib Dem Rural Development minister Ross Finnie to set the lowest possible level of voluntary modulation of farm payments after the European Council reached a compromise allowing only the UK and Portugal to use voluntary modulation to fund Rural Development.

Mr Smith, who has repeatedly voted against voluntary modulation criticised the nature of the deal, but welcomed the decision to allow Scotland to set its own level of modulation.

Mr Smith said:

"The only positive point in this deal is that Scotland will be allowed to set the most appropriate rate for Scottish farmers. The SNP believe that rate should be as low as possible to ensure our farmers do not suffer.

"I can see absolutely no need for voluntary modulation in Scotland and I share the concerns of farmers across Scotland and the wider UK that they will be put at a disadvantage - especially as only the UK and Portugal will be operating under this system.

"The UK and Portugal look like being able to use this system up to 2013 putting farmers at risk into the future.

"The Scottish Executive has the money for its rural development programme, it does not need to take it from Scotland's already hard pressed farmers.

"Scotland's farmers have an opportunity in May to make sure this unfair and unfortunate mess is not applied in Scotland. An SNP government in May will support Scotland's farmers and let farmers use farm payments on their farms."



Note to Editors

A compromise package was agreed at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on Monday 19th March following an agreement between the European Council, European Commission and the chair of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee last week.

It will be discussed in both the Agriculture and Budget Committees of the European Parliament on Tuesday 20th March.

The deal allows the UK and Portugal to operate "optional modulation" whereby they will be allowed to reduce farm payments by up to 20% and to redirect that money to rural development programmes.

The NFUS, MEPs and other member states opposed the proposal which is a result of Tony Blair's damaging EU budget deal in 2006.

Where farm payments are already made on a regional basis - as within the UK - modulation can be set on a regional basis allowing the Scottish Executive to set a Scottish rate.