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Supporting Scottish Agriculture

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 6th March 2019.

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Photo of Donald Cameron Donald Cameron Conservative

I refer members to my entry in the register of members’ interests regarding farming and crofting.

Many members will be aware that we had a similar discussion in the chamber about farming policy a couple of months ago. The Scottish Government’s welcome, if belated, U-turn on less favoured area support scheme payments dominated that debate, as did arguments about the United Kingdom’s and Scotland’s agriculture bills. For the record, I note that we continue to believe that Scotland should be included in the UK bill and that, by rejecting an offer to extend the powers in that bill to Scotland, the SNP is failing Scottish agriculture. However, we did not get as much discussion as many of us would have liked on the specifics of a future support system. That is just one reason why we have brought the debate to the chamber today, and I make no apology for that.

In addition, although Brexit is at the forefront of many people’s minds, that is no reason, in our view, for the Scottish Government to delay setting out its thinking on agriculture support. Leaving the European Union and the common agricultural policy provides us with a unique opportunity to rethink how we support farming. Almost three years have elapsed since the vote to leave the EU, but, in comparison with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we have had precious little detail or leadership from the Scottish Government.