Defra eases Scottish payment plans despite diverging views

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The Westminster government told The Scottish Farmer it had “no concerns” about the direction of the Scottish Government’s farm policy consultation.

Defra’s statement follows concerns from English farmers that it would be unfair for Scottish farmers to continue to receive direct support and coupled payments, while south of the border they have been shut down. There have also been grumbles that a drastic divergence in support systems north and south of the border could jeopardize a balanced and fair UK internal market.

However, Defra said it had monthly meetings with Scottish government officials and was therefore ‘well aware of the proposals’.

Read more: Defra considering ‘production method’ food labeling

These discussions take place within the UK Agriculture Policy Collaboration Group (PCG) and the Market Monitoring Group (MMG). The PCG allows officials to determine whether a new or changed policy will have an undesirable impact on another administration and to make recommendations to ministers and senior officials accordingly.

Defra told The Scottish Farmer that the Scottish Government’s agricultural policy consultation was discussed at the PCG in July and there were no concerns. He said he was regularly informed and previewed of the plans as they were developed thanks to the existing engagement through the agriculture support framework.

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Elaine R. Knight