The political jousting over the future funding of Scottish farming continued yesterday with rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing confirming the Scottish Government remained committed to delivering “Common Agricultural Policy levels of support.”
This response followed an NFU Scotland request for clarity on short-term support both for direct payments such as the Basic Payment Scheme and headage payment schemes for beef calves and hill sheep and for indirect support delivered through Less Favoured Area cash.
In its letter sent yesterday, the union pointed out that the UK government had promised support up to 2020 on direct payments but so far the Scottish Government had not matched this commitment.
Union president Allan Bowie said: “Funds delivered through Scotland’s Rural Development Programme are hugely important because of the economic, environmental and social goods they deliver, particularly to some of our more remote regions. That merits clarity on committed Scottish Government spending on Pillar 2 schemes. The Less Favoured Area Support Scheme – around two-thirds of which is funded by Scottish Government – is an important example of this.”
Responding, Ewing referred to a letter he had sent to the Defra Minister asking her to ensure that around £300 million Scottish Rural Development Programme funding would be agreed in time for the Chancellor to include it in his Budget.
He added the best way to guarantee the jobs, investment, services and projects which depend on this funding beyond 2020 would be by maintaining Scotland’s relationship with the EU.