The eagerly awaited review of farm subsidy budget allocations will not apply to the current round of Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) funding, Defra Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed.
Scottish farm leaders have long called for a review of funding allocations following a dispute over the way extra funds, known as convergence uplift, were distributed across the UK.
The funds were awarded to the UK to bring Scotland’s per hectare subsidy average up, and the Scottish Government claims the UK Government has robbed farmers of £160 million by not passing this cash north of the border.
However, a review of funding allocations, announced today, will not revisit the distribution of funds under the current Cap round, which runs between 2014 and 2020.
It will instead look at what factors should determine the distribution of agriculture funding between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during the current parliament.
It will consider each country’s individual circumstances, including environmental, economic and socio-economic factors, as well as farm numbers and farm sizes.
The review, which is expected to last between three and six months, will be led by Lord Bew of Dongemore, who was chairman of the committee on standards in public life for five years.
The panel review will also involve representatives from each of the devolved administrations.
“This important review, led by Lord Bew, will explore how we can deliver funding for farmers that supports the individual needs of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland,” said Mr Gove.
“We are committed to making sure that future funding is fairly allocated, and are also confirming that the government won’t simply apply the Barnett formula to Defra’s funding beyond this parliament.”
NFU Scotland welcomed the launch of the review and said it was long overdue.
However, it said the terms of reference for the review were “bitterly disappointing” because it will not be used to rectify the issue of lost convergence funding.
It said it was also disappointed that the review will not be used to determine agriculture funding arrangements beyond 2022.
A spokesman for the union said: “This review must be about agreeing the baseline for future funding allocations beyond the current parliament and existing UK Government commitments to 2022.
“This baseline is an essential cornerstone on which Scotland will build its future agricultural policy.”