Ministers from the devolved nations have called for assurances that all EU funding for the countryside will be fully replaced, after it emerged Treasury proposals would see rural budgets slashed by more than £455m.
According to a letter sent by the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Governments to Defra Secretary George Eustice, the UK’s planned settlement would cut funding over the 2021-22 to 2024-25 period for Scotland by £170.1m, Wales by £160m and Northern Ireland by £34m.
A failure to account for inter-pillar transfers in 2020-21 has also resulted in the Scottish budget being £49.5m less than expected and the Welsh budget being £42m lower than expected.
Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the UK was ‘refusing to respect the devolved nations’ and had ‘broken a commitment’ to engage with the Scottish Government as equals on funding decisions.
Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Rural Affairs Minister, echoed these concerns, saying the UK Government was ‘failing in its manifesto commitment to provide full replacement funding’.
Farm groups across the UK also issued a plea for rural economies not to be the losers in a battle of funding between the devolved Governments and Westminster.
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “A shortfall of £170m for Scotland is wholly unacceptable and will significantly disadvantage farmers and crofters as we enter a potentially chaotic and turbulent post-transition period.
“It also undermines the crucial delivery of policies to meet climate and biodiversity challenges.”
NFU Cymru president John Davies described the potential loss of up to £200m in Wales as ‘an unacceptable situation’.
“At a time when Welsh farming is facing such uncertainty, we look to our Governments to provide some stability and certainty,” he said.
“We seek urgent assurances that Welsh farming will not receive a penny less in funding as we move out of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).”
Farmers Union of Wales president Glyn Roberts said the deficits quoted in the letter were ‘staggering’.
“If they are accurate, they represent a complete departure from the promise made just 12 months ago in the run-up to the General Election, and a decision which would be extremely damaging to Welsh agriculture, rural communities and the reputation of the UK Government,” he added.