North East MSP Mike Rumbles has slammed the Scottish Government for sleepwalking into a decade of strain for Scotland’s rural economy.
Speaking in a parliamentary debate on the future of the rural economy following the EU referendum, Mr Rumbles called for the Minister to look again at forming a team of experts to design a Scottish arrangement of support for our rural industries.
Mr Rumbles said: “When I asked the Minister if he had set up a team of civil servants to look at the future of rural funding, post 2020, he seemed outraged that I had the temerity to even ask such a question and could not get out the door fast enough.
“Over 38% of our farmers either made a loss or had incomes of less than £10,000 [in 2015] – even with the subsidy. It is perfectly clear how reliant some of our farms are on EU subsidies, and how many of them are at risk without them.
“Once we leave the EU, these farm subsidies become entirely the responsibility of Scottish Ministers – agriculture is entirely devolved – that is why I why I find it astonishing that the Scottish Minister has not already sparked on this.”
Following the debate he added: “Let me be clear, our rural economy will be put to the test over the coming years. But, for the first time ever, we now have an opportunity to design our government support directly around the strengths of our rural industries – and all the Minister can do is harp on about Westminster.
“This Government is sleepwalking through some of the most challenging times for our rural communities in a generation. A fact that is made even more frustrating when the solutions are presented to them on a silver platter.”