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Scottish Rural Secretary slammed for ‘dithering’ on post-Brexit policy

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has been slammed for ‘dithering’ on a post-Brexit agricultural policy for Scotland.


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Scottish Rural Secretary slammed for ‘dithering’ on post-Brexit policy

Convener of the Rural Economy Committee Edward Mountain challenged Mr Ewing to ‘name the date’ when farmers would be consulted on a future policy.

 

Mr Mountain, who represents the Highlands and Islands, said farmers needed to plan for the next five years and called on the Mr Ewing ‘to stop dithering and start delivering’.

 

The demand for clarity came as Mr Ewing confirmed he had no plans to introduce an agricultural policy until the Scottish Government’s National Council of Rural Advisers had published its recommendations, due in ‘summer 2018’.

 

Mr Mountain said: “Farmers are planning for next year now, and they need some idea of what the Scottish Government’s policy is going to be.


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“The problem is we have a Cabinet Secretary who is stalling for time and is waiting, yet again, for another report.

 

“A true example of a lack of ambition, urgency and, frankly, a lack of ideas.”

 

The consultation for the UK Agriculture Bill closed on May 8, 2018, with draft legislation likely to be published in the second half of this year, but the paper was criticised for its lack of detail on the funding, delivery and timing of a future scheme.

 

The Scottish Government has previously told Farmers Guardian the development of a post-Brexit agricultural policy has been delayed because of a lack of clarity over future funding and where powers will be exercised.

Last week, Mr Ewing and Welsh Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths joined forces to insist Defra share information on future budgets without further delay.

 

A spokesman for Mr Ewing said: “Edward Mountain should tell his Tory colleagues to name the date when they will give the slightest hint of clarity on anything regarding Brexit.

 

“It is the UK Government who need to provide urgent clarity on what leaving Europe means for Scotland’s farmers and crofters – Brexit is their policy and they are the ones at the negotiating table.

 

“Our rural communities receive hugely valuable support from the EU, and they deserve clarity from the Tories on future long-term funding arrangements.”

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