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Farmers across Kintyre risk being ‘short-changed’ after it emerged a Scottish Government grant for slurry storage is significantly less generous than the equivalent for other parts of the UK.
New slurry storage regulations mean many farmers need to increase their capacity.
The UK Government’s scheme enables farmers to claim between £25,000 and £250,000 to pay for the changes.
But the Scottish Government’s equivalent only allows farmers to claim a maximum of £20,000, which is £5,000 beneath the UK minimum.
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron challenged Mairi Gougeon, the rural affairs secretary, on why her government’s version was so considerably less generous.
In response, she said: ‘Agriculture is devolved and it is for each part of the UK to develop policies for its own circumstances.’
Each year, farmers generate and use millions of tonnes of livestock slurry.
But previous poor regulation meant it caused significant levels of pollution and waste, and better storage facilities were required as a result.
The grants are designed to enable farmers to increase storage without suffering a financial penalty.
Mr Cameron said: ‘Both governments have recognised the need to support farmers in improving the storage of slurry.
‘But for some reason, the Scottish Government has decided to be considerably less generous.
‘Farmers across Kintyre are being short-changed as a result, and at the worst possible time.
‘In some situations, the UK’s offer will be more than 10 times more generous than Scotland’s.
‘That tells you everything you need to know about the Scottish Government’s attitude towards agriculture.
‘Scottish ministers should rethink this restrictive offer and ensure farmers can access the support they need to comply with these rules.’
South Kintyre councillor Tommy Macpherson added: ‘At a time of rising prices for fuel and feed, this is the last thing local farmers need right now.
‘I call on the Scottish Government to match the generous package on offer to farmers in England.
‘Farming in Kintyre is integral to our local economy.’