Crofters in the Western Isles are “badly let down” by the Tories and food producers are suffering from ongoing Brexit uncertainty, SNP MSP Alasdair Allan says.
The failure of the UK government to pass on money from the EU owed to Scotland underlined the danger of a Tory power-grab after Brexit.
Scottish crofters and farmers receive £580 million annually through the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The EU provided an uplift in funding as farmers and crofters in Scotland receive less per hectare than the EU average – but the Tories failed to pass the uplift on in full, short-changing Scotland by £160 million.
Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan said: “Brexit is an enormous threat to island crofters, who are deeply concerned over export markets and the future of subsidy support.
“The Scottish agriculture sector has now endured three years of uncertainty about access to European markets. There is also now the risk of our domestic market being flooded with food imports that do not meet any of the high welfare and safety standards currently in place.
“Next week’s European election is a chance to send a message to the Tories that the Western Isles doesn’t want Brexit. A vote for the SNP is a vote to make clear Scotland says No to Brexit and to protect Scotland’s agriculture sector.”
However, Donald Cameron MSP (Highlands and Islands – Scottish Conservative), Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, said in response to a statement from rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon on sheep farming yesterday (Tuesday 14th May), that instead of focusing on Brexit , the SNP should be turning its attention to ensuring that Scottish farmers and crofters get the support they need from her own government.
“Given the Scottish Government’s CAP payment fiasco and the cuts to LFASS which it continues to administer, it is rank hypocrisy to accuse others of failing to support sheep farming.”
Speaking outside the chamber after the debate, Mr Cameron said: “Unfortunately whenever SNP ministers come into the chamber to account for their policies and performance it invariably degenerates into a rant about the UK Government.
“Instead of taking responsibility and exercising the powers that she has, Mairi Gougeon focussed her attention on Brexit. She should of course be turning her attention to ensuring that Scottish farmers and crofters get the support they need from her own government.
“Questions remain unanswered about how the SNP’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2045 will impact on the sector. She needs to start providing some answers. We need assurances that our sheep farmers are not regarded as expendable.”