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NFU Scotland Calls on Governments to Deliver Firm Funding Commitments Beyond 2022

The absence of any future funding commitments from the UK and Scottish Governments beyond 2022 is eroding certainty and confidence of agricultural businesses who face the prospect of a potentially chaotic and very turbulent post-transition period.   As the UK fully departs the European Union (EU) on 1 January 2021, it also leaves the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which has consistently delivered significant financial support to Scottish agriculture for decades.  



A fully adequate and effective funding settlement for Scottish agriculture beyond the CAP, which was promised in two Conservative election manifestos (2017 & 2019), remains an absolute priority for NFU Scotland.  Under current and foreseeable market circumstances, such funding is critical to ensuring the sector continues to underpin Scotland’s high-quality food and drinks sectors, that are so important to the Scottish economy and post-Covid recovery, whilst also enabling farmers and crofters to deliver on environment and climate change ambitions.

While the UK Government’s Spending Review of 25 November confirmed the same funding that Scotland received via the CAP in 2019 would be available to the Scottish Government for 2021/22, this fell short of previous pledges to commit funding on a multi-annual basis. There also remains an absence of any commitment from 2022/23 onwards that would uphold the recommendations of the Bew Review.

Equally, NFU Scotland believes the Scottish Government should be guaranteeing its own financial commitments in the forthcoming Scottish budget to ensure the full continuity of the likes of the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) and the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS).   

In addition, NFU Scotland has also called on the Scottish Government to ramp up the spending under the Agricultural Transformation Programme, through the Sustainable Agricultural Capital Grant Scheme (SACGS). If the ambition of the Scottish Government’s recently published Climate Change Plan are to be realised, then both the right measures and money are essential.

To date no long-term assurances to the Scottish agricultural sector have been given by either the UK or Scottish Governments, which President Andrew McCornick is beyond frustrated with.  He said: “NFU Scotland has always been crystal clear that in the post-Brexit era, Scottish farmers and crofters must have access to the same amount of funding as they had under the CAP as promised in the Conservative manifestos and that the sector should not be disadvantaged financially by Brexit.

“We need clear long-term commitments from Treasury to honour promises made for at least the remainder of the UK parliamentary term to 2025 and to uphold the recommendations of the Bew Review.  The absence of such commitments will threaten the stability of Scottish farm businesses entering an uncharted period.  

“But it is not all about sums of money – it is just as much about how funding is used. As agriculture and related policy are devolved, that lies entirely within the gift of the Scottish Government. Assurances that the Scottish Government will continue to play its part in funding existing schemes would provide stability and continuity.  

“Commitments are also needed to initiate transformation – not least in the face of climate change challenges. Budgets might enable change, but it is how money is spent that is key to Scottish agriculture thriving and delivering on all that is expected of it. Responsibility rests with both the Scottish and UK governments – and NFU Scotland will continue to ensure those responsibilities are met.

“Investment in Scottish agriculture now will deliver for a green recovery in the rural economy, the national economy, jobs, the environment, biodiversity, climate change and our national wellbeing post-Covid.”  

Ends

Contact Diana McGowan on 07920 018619


Author: Diana McGowan

Date Published:

News Article No.: 174/20


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