An independent group of “relevant stakeholders” should be set up immediately to start planning how agricultural policy in Scotland should develop in the post-Brexit world, the Scottish Parliament decided yesterday.
And a call was made for turf wars brewing over who controlled post-Brexit farm policy and levels of support funding to be set to one side – and not to hinder the serious business of drawing up the fundamental aims of such a future strategy.
It is up to the Scottish and UK governments to act responsibly and work togetherMike Rumbles
Speaking at a debate on the future of funding for rural development, Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles said that it was crucial that there was cross-party co-operation to ensure that moves were taken to draw up a set of principles which were right for Scotland’s rural areas.
Rumbles said: “I have spoken to many organisations concerned by the lack of preparation being done to secure this funding; many agree that this is the correct way to proceed. It is entirely up to the Scottish and UK governments to act responsibly, work together, and take this initiative forward as soon as possible.”
He added that having these core principles agreed in advance would allow any new policy to be introduced both speedily and appropriately when the time arose.
Rumbles said that while his party stood for Scotland in the UK and the UK in Europe, measures had to be put in place, adding: “Otherwise it will spell disaster for our rural communities who depend on this support.”
The parliament also voted to support a Labour amendment that called on the UK government to work with the devolved governments to ensure that the differing needs of all of devolved nations were met.
It also supported a call requesting that devolved powers over policy should not be centralised at Westminster and that powers repatriated from the EU should be devolved in line with the Scotland Act 1998 with the aim of creating a level playing field between all regions of the UK.
• Speaking earlier in the day at the launch of Scotland’s draft climate change plan in the parliament, environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham revealed she would press ahead with proposals to introduce measures to make soil testing compulsory for farmers. She also announced plans to restore 250,000 hectares of degraded peatlands.