Fergus Ewing pledges support for farming industry

Hotfoot from the release of the SNP party manifesto, rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing made it plain that his government understood the need to introduce change gradually in order to give the farming industry and the wider rural economy time to adapt.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said the farming sector 'needs clarity'. Picture: John Devlin

Speaking after he addressed the Scottish Land & Estates conference, he said that the current levels of farm support should be continued until at least 2025 – and this would be a key element of the Scottish Government’s stance in discussions with other administrations.

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“We have argued all along that the industry needs clarity not only on future support measures but on likely trade deals and the relationship with our key markets if those in the rural sector are to have the confidence they need to continue to invest in the long-term future of their businesses,” said Ewing.

The SNP manifesto promised to protect powers over fishing and farming at Holyrood and demanded that Scotland continued to receive its full share of European Union CAP funding for farming, food production and environmental improvements.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “SNP MPs will make sure the UK government guarantees to match the current share of EU funding beyond Brexit and repays farmers their missing millions, including the £160 million ‘convergence uplift’ Scottish farmers have been short changed on.”

She added that her party would fight for a better deal for Scotland’s fishing and farming industries by making sure that the country’s voice was heard at the Brexit negotiating table, and that it would secure guarantees which went beyond Brexit over existing EU rural funding.