Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has assured the UK’s farmers that current levels of funding will continue until 2020 and that any agri-environment schemes agreed before the Autumn Statement will also be fully funded, even when such projects run beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.
The assurance, given by Mr Hammond (pictured above) earlier today, said the announcement provided certainty for the agricultural community, which plays a vital role for the country.
Farming leaders duly welcomed the Chancellor’s statement with NFU president, Meurig Raymond, describing it as being “positive for farmers”.
“We’ve been emphasising to the Government at all levels that the success of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, worth £108 billion to the UK economy, is underpinned by the farming sector,” he said. “With the agricultural budget now retained and agri-environment agreements and BPS payments now honoured, I am delighted that the Prime Minister and Defra have understood the importance of farming and food production.”
NFU Scotland chief executive, Scott Walker, agreed, adding: “Today’s guarantee will provide an anchor of stability in uncertain times and ensure that there is a confident platform on which to negotiate future trading and domestic support arrangements.”
The Scottish Government’s finance secretary, Derek Mackay, was less enthusiastic, however, preferring to highlight some of the shortcomings attached to the UK government’s provision.
“We will study the detail but what is already clear is the Chancellor’s approach falls far short of what fishermen, farmers and communities across Scotland need,” said Mr Mackay. “A limited guarantee for some schemes for a few short years leaves Scotland hundreds of millions of pounds short of what we would receive as members of the EU.
“Since the outcome of the EU referendum, we have urged the UK government to provide clarity and certainty on these vital funds. Yet, all that is clear with this announcement is that the uncertainty will continue.”