Sheep farming debate plus speech – 14.05.19

Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Lab):
Our farmers and crofters need stability and simplicity if they are to be able to plan ahead. A new subsidy regime must be in place as soon as possible, to give the industry a stable basis from which to innovate, tackle the challenges of climate change and meet the new targets.
Will the minister say when the new group of rural advisers will come forward with a blueprint for a new regime, so that our farmers and crofters can meet their new targets?
While we are talking about stability, it would also be helpful to know when LFASS payments will be made at 100 per cent, rather than the 80 per cent that is currently paid.
Mairi Gougeon:
The Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, updated the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee on a number of those issues when he appeared before the committee a few weeks ago, especially in relation to the commitments on LFASS payments and the work that we are doing on that to try to find a solution.
The stability and simplicity that Rhoda Grant spoke about are key to our policy. That stability—knowing what they can expect for the next five years—is exactly what we want to provide to farmers, and to rural Scotland. We have more detailed plans than exist in the rest of the UK—it is vital that members remember that.
Rhoda Grant also made a point about the new group that will be established. The cabinet secretary referred to that during his committee appearance. We are obviously keen to establish the group and get it going, because we recognise that we need to go beyond the policy that we have set for the next five years. We agreed to do that in the parliamentary debate in January and again recently. Work on that matter is progressing.