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Research: Brian McGowan

The Scottish Government announced yesterday, too politely:

Active farmers and crofters will benefit from the first instalment of convergence funding that the Scottish Government has long campaigned for. The initial £80 million will be distributed to support active farming, with a focus on those who farm in our marginal uplands, hill farms and island areas. The funding is the first tranche of a £160 million package the UK Government has agreed to pay to rectify a ‘historic wrong’ relating to EU Common Agricultural Policy funding that it failed to pass on to Scotland between 2014-2020. The payment follows a sustained campaign by the Scottish Government and stakeholders.


Readers might remember this from just over a year ago:

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SCOTTISH FARMERS have lost the battle over their unpaid ‘convergence’ cash, with Defra secretary, Michael Gove, finally admitting that they would not see any of the disputed £160m EU top-up that was awarded to Scotland but allocated elsewhere in the UK by David Cameron’s administration.

During an evidence session where Mr Gove was questioned by the Scottish Parliament’s rural economy and connectivity committee, he admitted that ‘mistakes had been made’: “That money has been allocated and is in the budgets of the various governments of the devolved administrations and we must respect the decisions of the coalition government.


So, this is just money unfairly pinched, being handed back slowly, late and timed to appear in the media as we approach an election. BBC Scotland, of course, played down any suggestion that Scottish farmers had not been ‘better together in the Union, saying:

Scottish farmer looks south with gratitude?

Upland and marginal farmers will benefit most from £160m of backdated subsidy for the agriculture sector.The money is the first half of EU convergence funding which was meant to increase support levels in Scotland but was instead distributed across the UK. Scottish ministers insist the new allocation adheres to the spirit of where the original money was intended.


It’s by no means clear that the last sentence reflects the feelings of Scottish ministers.

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