Sunday, 24 June 2018 06:28

MICHAEL GOVE CHALLENGED TO DETAIL FARMING SUPPORT BEYOND BREXIT

KATE FORBES: “THE FUTURE OF SCOTLAND’S AGRICULTURE IS AT STAKE"

The SNP is calling on Tory Environment Secretary Michael Gove to ring-fence the over €700 million annual EU funding for Scottish farmers and crofters beyond Brexit. 
 

The Brexiteer Environment Secretary has pledged farming support until 2022 but provided no detail on what this means in practice for Scottish farmers and crofters, nor whether or not EU funding streams such as the Leader programme, that devotes funding to rural businesses, will continue after Brexit. Most fear that the Environment Secretary, an economic right-winger, is gearing up to leave Scottish farmers and crofters in the lurch. 
The EU Withdrawal Bill enables the Tory Government in Westminster to assume control over Scotland’s devolved powers over agriculture and impose future funding decisions and priorities upon Scotland.
 
Highland MSP Kate Forbes has challenged Michael Gove to answer the following key questions ahead of his appearance before the Scottish Parliament’s environment and rural economy committees next week:
 

  1. What exactly does the guarantee to maintain EU subsidies on farm support cover - does it include all of Pillar 1 and all Pillar 2 schemes in Scotland?
  2. Why have you not undertaken the convergence review and deliver the £160m allocated to Scotland as promised?
  3. Will you now guarantee funding for Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) beyond 2019 as the Scottish Government has done?
  4. Will Scotland get to use its powers and set out its own funding scheme for the future or will you grab those powers through the Agriculture Bill?

 
Kate Forbes MSP said:
 
“Michael Gove has claimed Scotland’s farmers and crofters will not lose out on subsidies through the Tories’ damaging Brexit plans, but he’s given absolutely no detail on how he plans to achieve this.  
 
“Throughout his time in politics Michael Gove has pushed for the NHS to be dismantled and for schools to be marketised – and I am extremely concerned about what’s in store for farmers, crofters and our wider rural community in Scotland.
 
“What happens beyond 2022? Does rural support fall off a cliff edge? Will Scotland get the equivalent or more than the 16.5% share it currently receives in EU agricultural funding? What are the Tories planning to do with Scotland’s powers over agriculture that they are re-reserving to Westminster? Too many questions have been left unanswered.

“The answers to these questions are absolutely fundamental to crofters and farmers, many of whom live and work in my constituency. They are deeply worried as the cloud of uncertainty hangs over the future of farming support. 
 
“The Tories have named 24 powers they are taking away from the Scottish Parliament through the EU Withdrawal Bill – but that means that the floodgates have been opened for the Tory Government to do whatever they want with agriculture and farming support.
 
“The blank paper which formed Michael Gove’s Brexit campaign remains as blank as it was two years ago in 2016 - he must now reassure farmers and crofters in Scotland that he won’t pull the plug on much-needed agricultural support after Brexit. It’s the very least they deserve - the future of agriculture in Scotland is at stake.”

Agriculture in the United Kingdom 2017: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/712317/AUK-2017-31may18.pdf

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