Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has said English farmers would have liked Defra Secretary Michael Gove to follow the Scottish Government’s cautious approach to post-Brexit policy development.
Mr Ewing was responding to a recent warning from the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, which suggested putting reforms to agricultural policy on hold until 2024 would leave the Scottish industry vulnerable to a double-whammy of changes to support and trading arrangements in the late 2020s.
His comments were made during a 30-minute Ploughing Through Brexit devolved special podcast, where hosts Abi Kay and Will Evans were also joined by NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick, Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths and NFU Cymru president John Davies.
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“We do not believe that criticism is fair or accurate,” said Mr Ewing.
“We are facing the possibility of a no-deal in just over one week where we have no clue what is going to happen on March 29, so we put forward a set of proposals which aim to provide a fair degree of certainty to farmers and crofters regarding future funding over that five-year period.
“I think it is fair for me to point out there was actually a representative from NFU England, [director general] Terry Jones, who at the recent NFU Scotland AGM said he would personally have been very pleased if Defra had proceeded more like the Scottish Government and involved stakeholders properly.”
Mr McCornick, however, reiterated NFU Scotland’s call for the Scottish Government to move on with developing a post-Brexit policy.
“Although the Cabinet Secretary has explained he is making guarantees up to 2024, a lot of the decisions we are making at farm level are very long-term,” he said.
“We would like to see a direction of travel. There is another group which has been set up to determine this, but we need to see things being experimented and tried out in the next four or five years to see what would fit for Scotland.”