Scottish agriculture’s £51.4 million Bew windfall

By Mark Mitchell, Managing Partner

Should the UK Government follow Bew’s recommendations, Scottish farmers will receive an extra £51.4 million over the next two years, in addition to the £160m allocated in the Spending Round in September.

The Lord Bew Review of farm funding, commissioned by the UK Government, seeks to draw a line under the long-running concern of Scottish farmers that a proportion of the Common Agricultural Policy funding – ‘convergence funding’ – was wrongly allocated in 2013.

It is hoped that the funding announced in September will be used to support the vulnerable sector as the industry adjusts to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

The Review has developed the “Bew formula” based on the proportion of land in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which met the EU’s criteria (on a Member State level) to qualify for a convergence funding uplift. The Bew formula provides additional funding for land with low per-hectare payment rates. This land is predominantly in upland areas and is predominantly in Scotland.

The Scottish Government will ultimately decide how the Convergence monies will be allocated our farmers – a decision which in itself will no doubt cause disagreement. Agricultural funding between different parts of the UK until now has been influenced almost entirely by the objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy. Once the UK leaves the European Union, it will be the complete responsibility of the devolved governments to make decisions on how best to support farmers, and, due to the diverse geography of the UK, it matters very much how agriculture funding is divided between the devolved administrations.

For some Brexit is seen as an opportunity to draw a line under concerns associated with the methodologies and decisions of the past and agree a sustainable solution for a long-term agricultural funding settlement.

Published on 15th October 2019