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Scottish farmers need a guarantee that post-Brexit support will not be cut by a penny

Scottish farmers need a cast-iron guarantee that post-Brexit support will not be cut and that it will hit their bank accounts on time, says Mike Rumbles, North East Lib Dem MP.

It has been a poor year for many farmers.

 

No one can be blamed for bad weather, but some farm businesses are also reeling from uncertainty over Brexit and the Scottish Government’s atrocious handling of support payments over the past three winters.

 

Like Secretary of State Michael Gove in the UK Government, I could paint a bright future for agriculture by closing my eyes to the evidence and ignoring the challenges facing the industry.

 

Or like Cabinet Secretary Ewing in the Scottish Government, I could pay lip service to the rural economy while doing nothing but using it as a club to beat the UK Government and push a political agenda.

 

The reality lies somewhere in-between.

 

Horizon

 

Scottish farm businesses have done extremely well to weather the uncertainty of the recent years and there are indeed opportunities on the distant horizon, but the unfortunate truth is that there are difficult times ahead that will require a great deal of effort to overcome.

 

Whether our agricultural industries can make a success of Brexit or not will depend on whether our Governments can put aside party politics, prioritise our rural economy and deliver meaningful change for agricultural support.

 

At the moment, we have no guarantees that farm support will continue beyond 2022 and we do not know where the limited funding that is made available will be targeted.

 

We have no guarantee of access to European markets and, for a time at least, we will have to keep-up EU regulation while competing with subsidised farmers on the continent and cheaper low quality products from abroad.

 

I do not need to explain the challenges ahead.

 

Opportunities

 

There are opportunities as well. By leaving the Common Agricultural Policy we now have the chance to create a system of support that encourages production over ownership and works to the strengths of Scottish agriculture.

 

We are already world leaders in high-quality produce and that is where we should focus our efforts.

 

I also want to see both the UK and Scottish governments give a cast iron guarantee that support will continue at the same level and that it will arrive at the same time every year. Our Governments ought to be encouraging and developing our rural economy not undermining it.

 

It will come as no surprise that I am not a fan of Brexit and it is interesting that this week law officers have said that the UK could unilaterally cancel its withdrawal from the EU.

 

Outcome

 

Whatever the outcome, it is absolutely crucial that our farm businesses are not unfairly disadvantaged when accessing markets at home or abroad.

 

As we enter another winter, the Scottish Government is again relying on loans to pay farmers, we have no reassurances that businesses will be able to trade fairly with our closest neighbours and there is still no plan for the future.

 

We need to see an end to uncertainty from both our Governments at Holyrood and Westminster and for both Governments to concentrate on delivering for our rural economy.


Read More

Ewing says Brexit is a great threat to farming, but so are late CAP paymentsEwing says Brexit is a great threat to farming, but so are late CAP payments
Scottish farmers will lose money if the Government doesn’t put a post-Brexit plan in placeScottish farmers will lose money if the Government doesn’t put a post-Brexit plan in place

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