Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing used the NFU Scotland Conference as a platform to confirm his confirm his commitment to 100 per cent funding of the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS).
But there was less clarity as to how he is to fund the scheme.
EU rules, which will still apply during Brexit transition period, dictate LFASS funding should drop to 80 per cent of the current level in 2019 and 20 per cent in 2020.
This means Mr Ewing will need to find £12m and £36m respectively from other sources and by what he called ’other means’.
Comments he made about perhaps being ’forced to take money from where it can be found’ fuelled speculation that Mr Ewing might reduce payments to the arable sector to support the hills.
He had already said, ’it is important that support goes to those who need it most’.
Officials later insisted that this was not a favoured option but other sources were limited.
The front runner is gaining an adequate allocation of UK funding but this depends on the results of a review currently being carried out at the behest of Defra Secretary Michael Gove.
Mr Ewing confirmed this would not look retrospectively at the internal convergence allocations of 2013 but instead only at funding between the UK administrations for 2020-2022.
Mr Ewing stressed beyond Basic Payment and LFASS funding he had signed off £118m of support for farming and food production over the course of the last year.
“It has supported new infrastructure from Orkney to Dumfries, promoted Scottish produce at home and abroad and helped companies offer apprenticeship programmes," Mr Ewing told the audience in Glasgow.
“Much of this has been enabled by membership of the EU. Future funding is now in much more precarious position, reliant as it is on the whims of a Westminster Government."