Scots decry Defra aid for English farmers

A row has broken out between the Scottish government and Defra over a £12.5m compensation package announced by secretary of state Hilary Benn.

A row has broken out between the Scottish government and Defra over a £12.5m compensation package announced by secretary of state Hilary Benn, which will help only English farmers affected by foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

The National Farmers' Union of Scotland (NFUS) said the UK government must extend the package beyond English borders. NFUS president Jim McLaren said: "We are facing a catastophe not of farmers making, but which has resulted from negligence at a government-licensed facility. The UK government has a moral responsibility to address the consequences of this crisis."

The Scottish government directly challenged Defra to extend its compensation package. Richard Lochhead, cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the environment in the Scottish government, said: "Following Hilary Benn's statement in the House of Commons on help for English farmers, I am urgently seeking clarification from him on the scale of any financial package he intends to make available for Scotland's hard-pressed livestock farmers.

"The Scottish government certainly shares the view of the industry that this announcement must be accompanied by emergency aid for Scots farmers in the light of the devastating impact the FMD outbreak has had on our livestock industry."

Defra told MTJ it will not be considering the Scottish government's requests and said it will have to fund compensation for its own farmers.

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