The Cabinet Secretary responsible was today caught off guard by a question on the future of Common Agricultural payments from North East MSP Mike Rumbles.
Despite claiming that the Scottish Government are ‘not waiting for decisions to be made for us’ and that they are ‘getting on with the job of making rural Scotland’s future’, the Minister was forced to side-step the question when Mr Rumbles asked what that involved.
Mr Rumbles said: “This empty response is typical of the current rural economy Minister.
“I have repeatedly asked the Minister if a team of experts would be tasked with designing a Scottish system of agricultural payments - to ensure the most is made of the available funding once it becomes the responsibility of the Scottish Government in 2020. His reply was that civil servants had attended and spoke to farmers at the Highland Show last year. That is simply not good enough.
“CAP payments provide over £300million to over 18,000 farmers, and that support is crucial to the future of our rural economy. Our farm businesses need long term guarantees on how that funding will be delivered. To suggest anything else shows a deep misunderstanding and contempt of our agricultural sector.
“If the Minister thinks that a new payments system can be created overnight, and with no assessment of how to best implement it to fit Scotland’s needs, he is kidding himself on and is in for an uncomfortable surprise.”