Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

29th October 2019


The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has welcomed today’s announcement by the Scottish Government that the first £80 million of the £160 million of convergence money, historically due to Scotland, has been allocated and will be distributed to active farmers and crofters with a focus on those farming in the uplands, hills and islands. Further details on how the funding is to be distributed are to be made available in due course.

Commenting on the news, STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said; “This news is obviously very welcome at a time when agriculture faces huge uncertainty about future trade, availability of markets and support arrangements. The likelihood of an imminent general election only adds to the confusion, especially as current support payments have only been guaranteed until the end of the current parliament and the length of any future transition period is still undecided.

“This money represents compensation from under-payment of Pillar 1 support payments and it is generally accepted that it should stay in Pillar 1. However, as expected, there are differing views as to who should receive the top-up payment and the Cabinet Secretary has some difficult decisions to make which will not please everyone.  There is little detail in the announcement of how the first tranche of convergence money will be distributed and whether or not the second installment of £80 million will be distributed in the same manner.

“STFA agrees that the bulk of the convergence payments should be received by those farming in the more marginal less favoured areas, but care should be taken to ensure that they are only distributed to farmers and crofters who are actively farming the land and are in the most need. Holders of large tracts of land with minimal activity should be excluded or at least have their payments capped, to avoid over- compensation.  Moreover, convergence payments should be denied to land, currently in receipt of single farm payments, which has been or is in the process of being converted to forestry.  Most of these aims could be achieved by using the LFASS mechanism as a delivery template.

“STFA is writing to Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, to suggest that this should be seen as an opportunity 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.”