Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing has vowed he “will not rest” until funding to replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reaches farmers.
Ahead of his speech to the National Farmers Union Scotland, Ewing pledged to continue pushing the UK Government over what he claims is a £170 million “gap” in the subsidy’s replacement over the next four years.
Ewing is also expected to address the issue of reducing emissions in farming and food production, while thanking farmers for their “tireless” work during the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “We’ve done a lot through this pandemic to support our farmers and crofters for their efforts.
“I have made sure that we have been engaging with industry on a daily basis to identify any issues and work together to mitigate them.
“This includes focusing our efforts on ensuring they get their support payments on time, providing them with stability in this challenging period.
“Our food producers and rural communities face a £170 million gap in Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) EU replacement over four years.
“We continue to press the UK Government for more clarity on future funding for farming and I will not rest until this money is back where it belongs, in the pockets of Scottish people and businesses who deserve it.”
The farming union’s AGM and conference is being hosted virtually this year due to coronavirus over three days, and will also feature a speech from Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, who will then join NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick to field questions.
On the issue of the CAP and its replacement, the Scottish Secretary will say: “The UK Government has met its promise to guarantee the current annual budget to farmers in every year of this Parliament.”
Jack is also expected to respond to fears the UK Government would lower standards to allow trade post-Brexit trade deals in a “race to the bottom”.
“You will have heard the scare stories about chlorinated chicken being foisted upon us. In fact, we will not compromise on our high environmental, animal welfare and food standards. Those standards are enshrined in law and remain unsurpassed,” he will say.
Jack will add: “Brexit offers new challenges, yes – but also many new opportunities to do things not just differently but better and to do them in new ways, custom-built to suit us in Britain.
“As a skilful and efficient sector of the economy, farming is well placed to thrive in this new environment and we have every reason to expect a bright future.”
Ahead of the conference, Mr McCornick said: “In a year like no other, it is hugely important that key events in Scotland’s farming calendar go ahead.
“The twin challenges of rebuilding trading links with the EU and creating new trading opportunities worldwide are essential to the future fortunes of our farming, food and drink sectors.
“Driving forward our ambitions as producers is set against the economic backdrop dominated by the impact of Covid-19, making our role central to the nation’s green recovery.
“These two seminars give farmers and crofters the very best opportunity to see and hear from our leading politicians on their vision for the future.”