Single farm payments made to Scottish farmers could double if the country moved to an area-based payment system, Scottish Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon has said.

Using the 2013 figures, the average payment across the UK is €229/ha. On a country-by-country basis farmers get on average €130/ha in Scotland, €339/ha in Northern Ireland, €245/ha in Wales and €265/ha in England.

“The reason Scotland still has such a poor share of the UK CAP cash on a per hectare basis is because the Scottish government has chosen to hang on to the historic payments model for calculating the single farm payments to Scottish farmers, while England moved to a flat rate payment system in 2005,” said Mr Lyon.

“To open the door to a fairer distribution of CAP cash within the UK, the Scottish government would need to take substantial steps to abolish the historic payments system and move to an area-based model for paying Scottish farmers.”

The UK government needed to work with the devolved nations to develop a fair payments system for the whole of the UK, he said.

“I believe that Scotland, with 85% of its land designated as LFA (less favoured area), would be entitled to a fairer share of the UK CAP cash, one that gave us an SFP pot that is at least the UK average of €229 a hectare.

“That would nearly double the current amount of money in Scotland, which last year was worth €550m to Scottish farmers.”

Drawing on the independence debate, he said Scottish farmers needed reassurance from Westminster that they would get a fair share of future CAP support as part of the UK, not only as part of an independent Scotland.

“By working constructively together within the UK, there is a much larger prize to play for that will bring real benefits to Scottish farming.”

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