Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

6th November 2019


The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association is urging the Scottish Government to think carefully before allocating the hard won convergence money which is causing so much controversy. The Cabinet Secretary has a difficult balancing act in distributing the new funding fairly and managing the expectations of different sectors of the industry, particularly the crofting sector who believe they are not receiving due benefit from the government proposals.  It now appears that, thanks to the vigorous lobbying of the Crofting Federation, an attempt is being to address their concerns by introducing a further £10 million from the second tranche of £80 million to be distributed to those farming in the most marginal areas in 2019/20.

Commenting on the situation STFA Director Angus McCall said: “The Scottish government, has now put some more flesh on the bones, of the proposals for distributing the convergence money. As anticipated, they have not pleased everybody, although they will go some way towards helping many in Region 1 whose low historic payments were setting them at a disadvantage during the convergence period.  As has been recognised, it is only fair that the bulk of the funding is delivered to those in the more marginal areas and the Cabinet Secretary has moved swiftly to address concerns expressed by the Crofting Federation, that active farmers and crofters in Regions 2 & 3 were not receiving their rightful share.

“However, the current proposals only relate to the first tranche of £80 million and we look forward to discussing how make the best use of the next £80 million and we understand that will include discussion on the design of a replacement for the LFASS.

“As well as being seen as compensation for having had £160 million withheld, the convergence money has the potential to give the industry a one-off financial boost at a time when it is most needed and consequently it must be spent wisely on those who will derive most benefit from it, and that means excluding the non-active. To achieve this, we would like to see convergence monies in Region 2 & 3 land being restricted to farmers and crofters in receipt of LFASS, thus ensuring non-active farmers or land managers do not benefit from the windfall payments.  In effect this would include land, currently in receipt of single farm payments, which has been or is in the process of being converted to forestry or about to be planted with trees, land with no stock and slipper farmers.

“STFA believes that the higher rates of convergence payments, especially on large areas in Regions 2 & 3 would give rise to undeserved over-compensation and has urged Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, to introduce a cap on payments.

“STFA has also spoken to the Cabinet Secretary, to press him to regard the convergence money as an opportunity to establish a fund to address the anomaly of new entrants who were unable to draw down entitlements from the National Reserve. These new entrants have been operating at a disadvantage without the benefit of support payments and an injection of cash would provide a welcome cash boost to help develop their businesses.