The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party has labelled as ‘damaging’ the decision by the Scottish National Party (SNP) not to accept Westminster legislation dealing with Brexit.
The Conservatives said that rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing was pressed in the Scottish Parliament on the “need for farmers to get certainty on when and how they will receive payments after Brexit”.
The Conservatives point out that the Government in London offered to include Scotland in its schedule of an upcoming national agriculture bill; this was declined by the SNP, while the Welsh Government opted to accept the offer.
An agricultural bill is essential for this government to continue making support payments to our farmers post-Brexit.
“Last year’s farm business income figures showed over 60% of farms were making a loss, with the average business making a loss of £7,400 without additional support,” said Peter Chapman, MSP for the Scottish Conservatives.
“More worryingly, Less Favourable Area (LFA) sheep farmers were making a loss of $27,400, so these figures show how vital these support payments are,” he added.
Secretary Fergus Ewing responded to the parliamentary question by saying that the bill would present “no difficulties” for farmers and crofters, and that: “We will bring it forward as necessary and in due course.”
However, the Scottish Conservatives argue that the bill should be in place already.
“It is good for the SNP to believe that legislation is a doddle, but the difficulty Mr Ewing is unaware of is that farmers and crofters have already experienced uncertainty,” said Chapman.