NFU Scotland seeks assurances over post-Brexit funding

The National Farmers’ Union in Scotland (NFU Scotland) has called for assurances from the assembly government on maintaining funding post-Brexit. 

This follows a UK government statement guaranteeing support levels for structural and investment fund projects after Brexit.

The commitment, made by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond covered those measures and schemes in Scotland that are partly funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (CAP Pillar 2). 

NFU Scotland has written to Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Constitution Derek Mackay seeking assurances that the Scottish Government will follow suit and provide the same commitment to maintaining funding for Scotland’s key Pillar 2 schemes. 

These include the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) and the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) which sit within Scotland’s Rural Development Programme (SRDP) and are currently worth around £95 million per annum, with 70% of funding coming from Scottish Government.

The Union believes that a clear and unambiguous statement from the Scottish Government on the future of its funding commitment to spending under the SRDP would be of “real value” in helping to build confidence following the Brexit vote.

In the letter, NFUS president Allan Bowie said: “The UK Government’s announcement has now made it clear that, for as long as the UK remains a member of the EU, farmers and crofters must be entitled to apply for EU funds. 

“In order to boost the confidence of farmers and crofters, and the wider rural economies that they underpin, it is vital that the Scottish Government makes an unequivocal statement setting out its commitment to maintain Pillar 2 spending on all the schemes within the SRDP at current levels through to 2020.

“Direct support payments from Pillar 1 of the CAP in Scotland play a vital role, but the importance of key SRDP schemes cannot be overstated.  Annual schemes like LFASS and multi-annual commitments like AECS are key to underpinning active farming and crofting in more fragile areas as well as delivering a huge range of environmental benefits. 

“In addition, new schemes such as the Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES) and the new Farm Advisory Service (FAS) will be vital in enabling agricultural businesses to embrace innovation and become more efficient in their role as the cornerstone of Scotland’s food and drink success story and as key drivers in the growth of the Scottish economy.

“The EU referendum result has cast significant uncertainty over all of Scottish agriculture.  A clear and unambiguous statement from the Scottish Government on the future of its funding commitment to spending under the SRDP would be of real value in helping to build confidence and in encouraging farmers and crofters to continue to do what they do best – providing high quality food products, managing flourishing environments and underpinning thriving rural communities.”

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