Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary has criticised the UK Government for increasing uncertainty over funding for farmers and crofters.
In a statement, Fergus Ewing said he has not received assurances from Westminster that any replacement funding will continue at the same level after 2019-2020.
He told MSPs the UK Government had promised farmers would get the same – or more – support after leaving the EU but they had yet to give him details of future arrangements.
Describing the situation as a “Brexit boomerang”, Mr Ewing said: “I throw my reasonable requests out to the UK Government for financial certainty and clarity and they throw them back at me with nothing in return.
“We are moving from having seven years of guaranteed funding from the EU and knowing what that funding envelope includes to having to wait every year for the UK Government to say how much will be received.”
Mr Ewing also announced a £55,000 cap for the basic element of convergence funding for each person or organisation receiving a share of the money.
News of a cap follows Mr Ewing’s announcement the #160 million funding would be distributed over two years, in addition to an extra #10 million for those farming on “challenging” land.
Following the statement in the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Lib Dem Mike Rumbles said: “The Cabinet Secretary’s statement today will be deeply worrying for thousands of businesses in our rural economy.
“The UK Government must clarify their position as a matter of urgency and confirm their commitment to continue the same level of funding until 2024.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “When we have left the EU, the Scottish Government will have the freedom to design its own policies and decide how farm funding will be allocated.
“We have always been clear that agriculture is devolved and this will not change.
“Our commitment to British farmers is patently clear, which is why we have guaranteed to uphold the current annual budget to support farming across all four corners of the UK for every year of the new Parliament.”
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