A bitter row has broken out after the Scottish Government announced it would be slashing farming budgets by millions of pounds over the coming years.
Support for less favourable areas is to be cut by £40 million, while climate change schemes are set to lose £42 million.
The announcement was made as part of a review of the Scottish Rural Development Programme, which is due to end in 2020.
The Scottish Conservatives accused the Government of ‘turning its back on rural Scotland’ as the scale of the cuts became clear, but Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing blamed the reductions on EU rules and Westminster’s refusal to pass on convergence uplift money.
Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Peter Chapman said: “Money for farms in less favourable areas is absolutely vital.
“These are the businesses who need the investment most and now it is being reduced significantly by an SNP Government which has turned its back on rural Scotland.
“When you consider the shambles of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments fiasco, it paints a grim picture for farmers across the country.
“This announcement effectively removes tens of millions of pounds from a sector which simply cannot afford it.
“It is no wonder rural Scotland is deserting this nationalist Government which is obsessed with Central Belt issues.”
Mr Ewing was keen to point out no cuts had taken place yet.
He said: “European Commission rules mean we are not able to continue the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) in its current form beyond this year.
“Notwithstanding that, we have decided to maintain the scheme in 2018 at 80 per cent of the current payment rates – the maximum permissible under EU rules.
“We would potentially be able to plug the gap next year if the UK Government handed over £160 million of remaining convergence uplift money which is rightfully Scotland’s.
“It has failed to do this despite promising to do so and despite me pressing this matter with UK ministers on several occasions.”
Mr Ewing also took aim at Westminster for refusing to confirm funding for LFASS would be made available again in 2019.