Independence would bring a ‘fairer’ future for farming claim slammed as ‘desperate fantasy’

Local MSPs are set to take part in more public debates as the Referendum approaches.

South of Scotland SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse will speak at a farmers’ union-organised debate at Lanark mart on Wednesday (August 27).

And yesterday (Wednesday, August 20) he criticised the UK Government over their handling of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, saying it negotiated Scotland to the bottom of the funding league tables for both direct payments to farmers and rural development funding for diversification and other rural businesses.

He said: “If Scotland had already been independent when the last round of CAP talks took place, our farmers could have benefited to the tune of up to €3.5 billion in additional European funding. Instead Westminster handed Scotland’s farmers and crofters the worst deal in Europe with the lowest direct payments per hectare in the EU.

“We need the ability to negotiate our own deal in Europe, to get a fairer settlement,”

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire Scottish Conservative MSP John Lamont, who will take part in the ITV Border referendum debate in Hawick on September 8, said: “This is more desperate fantasy from the SNP.

“If farmers across Scotland feel this way, why did 16 senior figures in the NFU last week speak out in favour of a No vote?

“The biggest risk to farms is a Yes vote, which would lead to Scotland facing reapplication to the EU.

“That could take years, and may not even be sanctioned at all, which would be a financial catastrophe for farming and rural affairs.”