The SNP government has been accused of plotting a ‘cash grab’ on rural communities by the Scottish Conservatives.
The SNP’s Agriculture Bill, discussed at Stage three today in the Scottish Parliament, will introduce the ability for the Scottish Government to place a limit on individual farm payments as new powers return from Brussels to Holyrood.
The NFUS has raised concerns about the operation of this policy and have asked that any such powers are exercised in a way that the ‘yield’ generated by capping can be effectively ‘recycled’ into other, outcomes-based, measures within the agricultural and rural support system.
As a result, Scottish Conservative MSP Peter Chapman introduced an amendment to the Bill which would help ensure that the funds from any future capped payments would still be given to farming communities.
The SNP voted against this amendment, confirming longstanding fears in the farming community of a government ‘cash grab’ from rural communities.
Oliver Mundell, Scottish Conservative rural economy spokesman said:
“Agriculture is the beating heart of our rural economy and yet, this Bill does barely more than scrape the low technical bar set for it. It joins a long list of missed opportunities for this SNP Government to chart a positive course for rural Scotland. We share the fear of farmers that an SNP Government, fixated on the needs of urban Scotland will exploit any future capping of payments to reduce the funding available to agriculture. The SNP government must rule out this kind of cash grab and promise that any capped funds remain within the agriculture portfolio. The failure of the SNP government to commit to this promise would represent an unforgiveable betrayal of our rural communities.”