EU ‘critical’ for Scots farming as income falls

Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said staying in the EU is ‘absolutely crucial’ for farming as new statistics show total income from farming in Scotland declined in 2014 and 2015.

The new figures from Scotland’s chief statistician show total farming income fell by 9% in 2014 compared to the previous year, and that initial estimates for 2015 show a further drop of 15%.

The Scottish Government said farming was worth £777 million to the Scottish economy in 2014, down from £837 million in 2013, with subsidies, potatoes and barley all declining.

Even worse, it is feared that total farming income for 2015 may have fallen further to about £667 million.

The statistics show that Scotland’s farm profits continue to rely heavily on the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies.

“These figures highlight the importance of EU funding to Scottish agriculture,” said Mr Lochhead.

“The Common Agricultural Policy is expected to inject more than €4.5 billion into the Scottish economy over this CAP period, and Scottish dairy producers benefited from EU emergency aid last year.

“Europe is also our number one destination for international food and drink exports, with more than two thirds of the food produced here going to the Continent.

“Continued EU membership is therefore absolutely crucial for the future of Scottish farming.

“Scotland needs a fairer share of funding from a simpler and more streamlined CAP with food production at its core.

“But this must be addressed from within the EU, as it is clearly in the best interests of Scottish farming to stay in Europe.”