Answers to Rhoda’s questions on Common Agricultural Policy and UK exit from the EU

16 August 2016

Rhoda : To ask the Scottish Government whether it plans to protect the funding that is currently provided to land managers carrying out agrienvironment scheme work under pillar two of the common agricultural policy after the UK leaves the EU.

Fergus Ewing: I am engaging in discussions with key stakeholders to emphasise that we are still firmly in the EU and EU funded investment in Scotland continues, and I will be seeking clarity from UK Government on the funding of EU projects following a UK exit from the EU. The Scottish Government’s priority, following a strong, unequivocal Scottish vote to remain in the EU is to protect Scotland’s interests and we are intent on pursuing all options to protect Scotland’s relationship with the EU, and seeking to negotiate the best way forward for our farmers, crofters, land managers and for Scotland. European funding, such as the Scottish Rural Development Programme funding will clearly be a key part of those negotiations.

Rhoda : To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had or plans with the UK Government to ensure that the "greening” element of the common agricultural policy will not be weakened before the UK leaves the EU.

Fergus Ewing: The approach to the greening element of the common agricultural policy in Scotland is a matter for Scottish Ministers. The European Commission has recently published proposals for simplifying the greening measures, and we are currently engaging with key stakeholders to discuss these proposals and to consider if any changes should be made to the greening measures in Scotland. Scotland remains part of the EU and is required to comply with the greening rules set out in the CAP regulations.

Rhoda : To ask the Scottish Government whether it plans to ensure that the system that will replace the common agricultural policy after the UK leaves the EU will tie direct payments to delivering wider social and environmental aims.

Fergus Ewing: Tying direct payments to delivering environmental benefits is currently included as part of the common agricultural policy through the greening element, that requires farmers and crofters to deliver measures beneficial for the climate and the environment.

Farmers and crofters rely, above almost anyone else in Scotland, on EU funding as part of their incomes, which helps them to deliver those environmental benefits and other public goods, and we are actively seeking clarity from UK Government on the provision of funding in the event that Scotland is removed from the EU as part of the UK. The Scottish Government’s priority, following a strong, unequivocal Scottish vote to remain in the EU is to protect Scotland’s interests, and, we are intent on pursuing all options to protect Scotland’s relationship with the EU, and seeking to negotiate the best way forward for our farmers, crofters and for Scotland.