Scottish Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has issued a rallying call to the other devolved nations to join the fight for greater agricultural powers.
He made the plea in a letter to his counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland, Lesley Griffiths and Michelle McIlveen.
The letter, which said EU farming powers should become the responsibility of Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast when the UK leaves the EU, follows First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s recent warning about a devolution ‘battle’ over the coming months.
It read: “On matters no longer subject to EU law which are the devolved responsibility of (in Scotland’s case) the Scottish Parliament, policy responsibility will, as now, be for the Scottish Government and decisions on the replacement of EU law will be for the Scottish Parliament. Crucially for our portfolios, this includes agriculture, fisheries, and environmental protection.
“That being the case, I was concerned when at the NFU Scotland AGM Ruth Davidson MSP, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, made clear that powers transferring from the EU should sit with the UK Government to be shared with Scotland (and presumably your devolved administrations), echoing comments already made by UK Ministers.
“I am concerned by this and hope we can find common ground on it.”
Farmers Guardian spoke to a cross-border farmer, Robert Campbell, to ask how he would be affected by dealing with two different systems on issues such as farm payments.
Mr Campbell, who farms in Stokesley, Middlesbrough and Stow, Scotland, said if the systems were entirely separate, it would reduce the complexity of having to amalgamate two separate claims.
“It would be much easier for me to actually track what was going on because I could talk to one about what they are doing and the other about what they are doing rather than having to listen to one of them blame each other, which is what can go on at this stage”, he added.
The new push for agricultural freedom in Scotland came as chair of the Welsh Rural Affairs Committee, Mark Reckless, suggested Wales could look at a bilateral deal with England on a common agricultural framework if the UK Government’s proposals were rejected by other devolved nations.