The Scottish Liberal Democrats have called on Governments in Westminster and Edinburgh to guarantee rural funding ‘for the foreseeable future’ to help farmers’ mental health.
Mike Rumbles, agriculture spokesman for the party and North East Scotland MSP, said Brexit uncertainty was adding to the concerns of agricultural workers, who already have an increased risk of suicide and other mental health problems.
In an exclusive article for Farmers Guardian’s Brexit hub, he wrote: “Our farm businesses have been under immense pressure in recent years.
“Brexit, uncertainty created by mishandling of support payments, bad weather, the rising costs of feed and seed and low income have all played their part.
“I want to be careful not to oversimplify the challenges faced by people working on farms and in rural industries.
“It is clear no single issue is to blame… [but] there is a lot more our Governments in Edinburgh and Westminster could do to help ease the burden of uncertainty.
“For a start, rural support funding should be guaranteed for the foreseeable future and there should be a clear plan of how the money will be targeted.”
In Westminster, Labour’s Shadow Defra team have worked up an amendment to the Agriculture Bill which would commit the Government to a multi-annual budget framework, giving farmers more long-term security on funding.
But so far, Ministers have refused to guarantee anything beyond 2022.
Mr Rumbles’ call comes four months after a FG survey found almost half of farmers – 48 per cent – said they were ‘not confident’ about their business prospects after Brexit.
Two of their main concerns were being undercut by cheap food imports (60 per cent) and a loss of subsidy (50 per cent).