Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today pressed ministers to make time for a debate on long-term stability for farming support payments. Questioning the Leader of the House during the business statement this morning Mr Carmichael noted that the current funding settlement for agriculture currently only runs to 2024, and highlighted the importance of stable funding for food security.
The operation of farm support payments is devolved across the UK but the Treasury continues to play a key role in setting the overall budget for such funding. Farmers and crofters including the NFUS are calling for more clarity on future support.
Mr Carmichael indicated after the session that he will continue to press for a full debate on the issue in the coming weeks.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“Can I ask the Leader of the House if we might have a debate in government time, to be answered by a Treasury minister, on the budget that will be available for future farming support payments?
“The current settlement only runs to 2024, but she will know that agriculture of all industries needs long term certainty, especially as we redesign the system of payments.
“The government speaks a very good game about the importance of farmers and crofters to our food security, but we do need to hear from the Treasury whether they will put their money where their mouth is.”
Responding, the Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt MP said:
“He will know of the announcements that the Secretary of State for DEFRA has made with regard to all aspects of rural life this week. In arriving at that plan she has been frequently with the Treasury. I shall make sure that both she and the Treasury will have heard his remarks.”
Reacting after the exchange Mr Carmichael said:
“The operation of farm payment systems may be devolved but there is still a vital role for Treasury to play in setting long term budgets. Farmers and crofters need a multi-year commitment and stability in these budgets – this is not something that can just be left to short term, last minute arguments.
“I will be pressing for a debate on this issue in the coming weeks so that farmers and crofters can get the clarity on long-term funding that they need. If the government truly believes in the central role farming plays in our food security then that is the least we should expect.”