The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, under questioning from North East MSP Mike Rumbles, today confirmed that he wants farm support payments to continue at current levels after Brexit but refused to outline plans about how that money would be spent.
Two years on from the vote on Brexit the Cabinet Secretary finally admitted, while speaking on behalf of the Scottish Government during a ministerial statement in the Scottish Parliament today, that he wants rural funding to remain at the present levels, clearly stating ‘I want to see the financial support for Scotland continuing’, ‘which is currently £500 million’.
Mr Rumbles, who is the Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesman for rural affairs said:
“This is the first time we have heard the Cabinet Secretary give an unequivocal figure of £500million for farm support payments after Brexit.
“That is good news for our rural economy but the question remains why doesn’t the Scottish Government just guarantee that and why doesn’t the Cabinet Secretary set out a clear statement outlining why that money is essential and how it would be spent. In other words he should put his money where his mouth is.
“The Scottish Government’s woeful mismanagement of farm payments over the past three years has shown they cannot be trusted to deliver in this area. If the Cabinet Secretary does not set out a clear plan for the future soon, that budget will come under attack from other departments that want a slice of the pie.
“The sorry state of affairs is that the Cabinet Secretary would rather lock horns with his counterpart in Westminster than plan for the future of Scotland’s rural economy.”