Urgent decisions must be made by the UK Government on a number of crucial food, farming and fisheries issues to protect rural communities, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said today.
In a series of letters to DEFRA and the Treasury, Mr Ewing has called on the UK Government to provide immediate clarity and certainty on a number of key farming, food, forestry and fisheries issues that are directly impacting on the Scottish rural economy. These include;
- Confirmation that the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) in 2017 will continue as normal.
- Confirmation that applications under the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme, for which contracts usually start in January 2016, will be honoured in full by the Treasury, even if the contracts may not all have been issued and confirmed before the Autumn Statement.
- Clarity on when and how DEFRA intends to take forward the recommendations of the Red Meat Levy Forum.
- Clarity as to whether the Treasury has agreed to our call to extend its EU funding guarantee to cover the outstanding £360 million Pillar 2 and EMFF funding that is vital to the Rural Economy.
- Agree the UK level Fisheries concordat which governs the allocation of quota in key fish stocks.
- Settle the long standing issues relating to the Seafish levy and Scottish Convergence funds.
Mr Ewing said:
“My number one priority is to protect the economic future of our rural economy and communities that are particularly vulnerable to the uncertainty caused by the result of the EU referendum.
“I am concerned the UK Government is neglecting the day job and I am concerned about the impact this may have on the rural economy. There are a range of domestic farming and food related decisions that, since the EU referendum, are sitting with UK ministers, which if made, I believe, could provide much needed certainty and clarity to our rural communities.
“This ranges from our calls for the UK Government to extend their EU funding guarantee and passing on in full the convergence uplift to Scotland, to acting on the recommendations of the Red Meat Levy Forum report and the Fisheries Concordat.
“It is the Scottish Government that is providing certainty and building growth in Scotland’s rural economy in these uncertain times. I would urge the UK Government to do their bit and make these urgent decisions to protect those living in our rural communities.”
Source: Scottish Government