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12 October 2018

MSP Hits Out at Tory Agri-Bill Threat to Scottish Farmers

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has hit out at the UK Tory Government’s agriculture bill brought to the House of Commons this week which ignores the needs of Scottish farming and food production
The new Bill, introduced to the Westminster Parliament by Michael Gove, has been denounced by Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, for failing to respect the devolved settlement.

Farmers in the UK currently receive £3.1 billion in support through the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy with Scotland receiving approximately half a billion pounds annually. The Bill fails to honour Tory promises made to farmers in the EU referendum to guarantee to match EU funding in the event of the UK leaving the EU in the long-term.

The National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) have supported the Scottish Government’s position that all decisions affecting agriculture in Scotland should be taken in Scotland.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Throughout my visits to the local agricultural shows over the summer, the recurring concern in any conversation I had with farmers was how they might be impacted by the Westminster Government’s complete lack of preparedness for post-March 2019.

“As the National Audit Office confirms that preparations to support businesses have not been made, the UK Government’s plan makes pretty horrific reading for Scotland’s farmers. The Agriculture Bill itself falls far short of the many promises that the UK Government have made to farmers across Scotland and their attempt to push it through Westminster - taking devolved powers from Holyrood as it does - is completely unacceptable.

“Marketed as setting the future direction of the UK, the reality is that the Bill and UK Government departments have no vision, no plan and have ignored calls to address the concerns raised by organisations like the NFUS.

“The Tories’ approach just underlines why Scotland needs its powers over farming policy and support so that we can provide for this key sector in our rural economy. We need policy which protects rural Scotland’s interests, not Tory interests."

Stewart Stevenson
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