Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called for clarity over the future funding mechanism for agricultural payments across the UK. The Government confirmed this week that the initial Scottish budget for the post-EU agricultural scheme would be £595m but has not confirmed how future budgets would be determined in the longer term.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Carmichael said:
“The Secretary of State has told us that the Scottish Government’s budget for the scheme will be £595 million, which is the budget that they carry over at present. That figure is not going to last forever; by what means will future budgets be fixed? What mechanisms will be used to resolve any disputes? What will happen if the divergent agricultural policies in any part of the United Kingdom, including England, then have a distorting effect on the UK’s internal market?”
Responding for the Government, George Eustice MP said:
“The Government set out in our manifesto that we will keep the budget for each part of the UK the same in cash terms for every year of this Parliament, and that is what we intend to do. Matters thereafter will be a matter for all the political parties in their manifestos for future elections and, of course, for future spending reviews.”
Reacting after the exchange Mr Carmichael said:
“Farmers need certainty about their future after Brexit that George Eustice cannot give them. We are less than a month away from the end of transition period which could leave farming exports subject to massive tariffs in their most important markets. Farmers and crofters are facing a potentially radical change in their trading conditions and so clarity on the future of support funding is essential.”