BORDERS MP HAILED AS “HERO” AT KEY NATIONAL FARMING CONFERENCE

BORDERS MP HAILED AS “HERO” AT KEY NATIONAL FARMING CONFERENCE

KERR MAKES HIGH PROFILE CALL FOR GUARANTEE ON FARM PAYMENTS

Last Wednesday Calum Kerr MP appeared at the Oxford Farming Conference in his capacity as the SNP’s DEFRA spokesperson at Westminster.

Responding to Farming Minister George Eustice’s announcement at the event that a move away from direct funding would be needed after 2020, Mr Kerr said it would be wrong to cut subsidies when many farmers are struggling.

The Borders MP called for current levels of funding to be maintained, “until you can argue that farming is more profitable and the marketplace has changed”.

Writing in the Courier, agricultural journalist Nancy Nicholson praised Mr Kerr’s “fire-in-the-belly performance” noting that it was “little wonder he was hailed the hero of the conference for calling for the continuation of direct subsidies.”

The MP’s contribution to the conference was also well received on the conference floor. Antony Pearce, a farmer from Aylesbury commented:

“Calum Kerr is certainly the most positive, supportive and motivated to fight for his farmers.”

Mr Kerr also called on the government to lay out detailed proposal about the kind of regime it wanted to put in place, after Mr Eustice and DEFRA Secretary Andrea Leadsom continued to refuse to commit to CAP-equivalent funding beyond 2020.

“Hope is not a strategy. There are big, fundamental questions to be addressed. We need to acknowledge the complexities of the situation and come up with a solution.”

“They can say they’ll come up with a scheme that’s fit for purpose, that’s more suited to our requirements but if they won’t commit to a level of funding – if it’s 10% of what we get today – what would that mean for the rural economy? It would be an utter disaster.”

“They need to talk far more openly about the level of funding and we need a clear guarantee that subsidies will continue beyond 2020.”

Mr Kerr also raised concerns over the nature of a UK wide funding system to replace CAP, given the numerous funding commitments the government has offered to sectors affected by Brexit.

“The treasury decides where the money goes and it is the treasury that is a threat to UK farming.”

“What Andrea Leadsom needs to explain, given that she has previously argued against farm support, is how she would change their mind.”

“Today I’m calling on all Borders politicians, of whatever party, to unite behind my call for the government to commit to direct farm support beyond 2020. This is an issue that is absolutely vital to the economic future of a region like ours.”

Mr Kerr also re-iterated his criticism of DEFRA for failing to pass on the convergence uplift: the £180million of CAP monies given UK from the EU to align Scotland’s per hectare funding rate with the European average.

“They’re overdue on that. Brexit is not an excuse to fail to deliver on a fair allocation,” said Mr Kerr.

For more details on Mr Kerr’s appearance at the Oxford Farming Conference, see:

www.scotsman.com/business/companies/farming/while-sir-ivan-rogers-acts-andrea-leadsom-dodges-issues-1-4334885

https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/business/farming/farming-news/343426/opinion-leadsom-no-answers/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38510423