Lyon urges SNP to outline ‘plan B’ on farm support

Scottish Lib Dem MEP George Lyon has challenged SNP ministers to outline their “plan B” for agricultural support payments if an independent Scotland was unable to join the EU immediately.

Speaking after the SNP published its independence White Paper last week, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy said an independent Scotland would have to leave the EU and renegotiate its entry.

Mr Lyon said Scottish farmers would want to know what any delay in EU membership would mean for direct support and rural development payments.

He warned that every member state to have joined the EU in the past decade has been forced to accept much lower payments as a condition of entry.

At present, Scottish farmers receive an average of about €25,000 every year in single farm payments (SFPs), which is five times the EU average.

Mr Lyon said: “Scottish farmers get some of the highest single farm payments in the EU. This money is crucial to helping farmers grow their businesses and has a massive knock-on effect on our wider rural economy.

“With recent entry talks taking an average of eight years, the hard truth is that farmers face the prospect of losing out on millions of euros while we tried to negotiate our way back into the EU.”

Scottish rural affairs secretary and SNP member Richard Lochhead has claimed a “Yes” vote to independence would provide a “billion-euro boost” in rural development funding to Scotland’s farmers during the next six years – and a stronger voice in Europe.

NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker said Scotland’s continuing EU membership was one of the “key issues” union members will question both the Yes and No campaigners on in the coming weeks.

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