Any Scottish farmer or crofter who is entitled to direct payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will continue to receive cash until at least 2024, under plans outlined by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing this week.
Mr Ewing set out the post-Brexit direction of travel, which is to be consulted on until September 7, in a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday (June 20).
He said: “I agree with the Agriculture Champions that there is a need for a transition period of at least five years from the day the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, to provide the space we need to properly develop a Scottish approach. This is in stark contrast to the one-year transition period currently being proposed by the UK.
“During transition, my intention is farmers and crofters entitled to CAP Pillar 1 will continue to receive support, subject to the overall financial settlement.”
In recent days, Mr Ewing had come under increasing pressure to provide some detail about future farming policy in Scotland both from industry and political opponents.
Ahead of the Royal Highland Show, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) president Frank Clark issued a plea for the Scottish Government to ‘grasp the nettle’ and ‘get on with’ tackling low farm productivity levels.
Scottish Conservative MSP and convener of the Rural Economy Committee Edward Mountain had also accused Mr Ewing of ‘leaving farmers in the dark’ by delaying the development of post-Brexit policy.
Previously, the Scottish Government had blamed the hold-up on a lack of clarity from Westminster around future funding and powers.
Mr Ewing repeated those concerns again in his statement this week, but said with the clock ticking down to Brexit day, he could not wait any longer to set out the options for future policy.
Other proposals from the Scottish Government include introducing a cap on farm payments, reducing inspections and penalties and making the whole system ‘more understandable and flexible’ for farmers.
Support schemes for active farming, food production, environmental improvements, forestry and rural development will be kept ‘largely the same’, but Ministers will seek to simplify and streamline them where possible.
Any resources freed up from this simplification will be used to test ‘new and innovative’ approaches.
NFU Scotland has welcomed the launch of the Scottish Government consultation on the future of farming support after Brexit.
The union said Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing’s priorities of stability, security and ongoing support had featured strongly in its own proposals for a new agricultural policy.
President Andrew McCornick said: “Since the Brexit vote two years ago, NFU Scotland has been on the front foot in developing the basis for a new agricultural policy for Scotland as we step out of the shadow of 40 years of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
“The Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to look at legislative simplification and addressing the disproportionate mapping, inspection and penalty process will be music to the ears of farmers and crofters, and mirrors our own priorities.
“We welcome the Cabinet Secretary's call for views and see this as an important step in delivering the correct policy for Scottish farmers and crofters.
"The timescale for responses is tight, but we need decisions sooner than later and we need a policy to support activity mapped out to give confidence to the industry.
“If all are willing, then Scottish Government and industry can work together to find solutions for productive, profitable agriculture going forward.”