Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today pressed Treasury ministers to give an update on discussions over the future size of budgets for farm support payments. Questioning the government this morning Mr Carmichael highlighted the importance of certainty over payments for farmers and crofters, and called for a meeting with Treasury officials and NFUS leaders.
The operation of farm support payments is devolved across the UK but the Treasury continues to play a role in setting the overall budget for such funding. Farmers and crofters including the NFUS are calling for more clarity on future support.
Speaking in the House Mr Carmichael said:
“Recent government announcements in relation to food security have been very welcome, but if they are to be meaningful then farmers and crofters need certainty about the future state of government support, and critically about the amount of money which will be available to fund that.
“Can the chancellor tell us when he will engage with DEFRA and the devolved administrations about the size of the future budget, and if in the meantime he will meet with me and the NFUS?”
Responding, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen MP said:
“As he knows the farming support payment operates on a different basis because it is devolved. We’ve committed to the £2.4bn for the duration of this Parliament and there are a number of schemes where the uptake is now increasing. I will continue to engage with my colleagues in DEFRA as those schemes develop further.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“Farm and croft support may be devolved but the Treasury plays a central role in defining the budgets involved. Ministers can and must give more of a long-term indication of the size of these budgets so that farmers can plan with confidence.
“If our governments truly want to stand up for food security and resilience in our economy then the first step has to be to stand up for farmers and food producers. If a farmer can plan his crops a few years in advance then it should not be beyond the wit of a Treasury official to indicate a budget.”