Scottish farmers are being left in limbo with the Scottish Government refusing to include Scotland as part of the UK Agriculture Bill, says MSP Edward Mountain.
When it comes to farming the priority for both the UK Government and the Scottish Government must be to ensure that farmers receive the support they need.
The problem is that Scottish farmers are being left in limbo with the Scottish Government refusing to include Scotland as part of the UK Agriculture Bill and also being unwilling to launch its own Scottish Agriculture Bill.
The result is that new legislation will be required by the Scottish Government before they can change or improve the exiting schemes.
This is confirmed by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), which offers impartial reports and research to all MSPs, who came to the same conclusion in their recent briefing on the UK Agriculture Bill.
According to SPICe: “Scottish Ministers have powers to correct deficiencies in this legislation to ensure that the law can operate.
“They will not have powers to modify this legislation – which England, Wales and Northern Ireland will have under the Agriculture Bill.”
That means, whether Scottish farmers like it or not, they will be stuck with the current CAP and all its schemes until the Scottish Government passes new legislation.
This poses many serious problems for Scottish Agriculture, especially for those farmers in Less Favoured Areas.
Upland farmers will be concerned about their LFASS payments being cut by 20 per cent in 2019, followed by a possible cut of 80 per cent in 2020.
It is up to the Scottish Government to determine how it addresses the issue of LFASS so that upland farmers have the security of knowing what to expect in good time.
However, by adopting CAP in full the Scottish Government is restricted by what it can do to support our upland farmers.
Fergus Ewing stated that the Scottish Government ‘need to find a workaround for recipients’ of LFASS payments.
This is far from the ’stability and simplicity’ that Mr Ewing promised, just more added complexity and a lack of clarity for our upland farmers.
It baffles me as to why the Scottish Government would want to inherit the problems of CAP without having the powers to improve the vital support schemes our farmers need.
This situation can be resolved but only if the Scottish Government decides to include itself as part of the UK Agriculture Bill or by urgently presenting a Scottish Agriculture Bill in Holyrood.
A choice must be made because the price of doing nothing is simply too high for our farmers.
The dithering has got to stop. Now is the time for the Scottish Government to deliver for our farmers.
Edward can be found tweeting @1edmountain