Will Clydesdale farms pay price for Brexit vote?

SNP MEP Ian Hudghton and Aileen Campbell MSP at the Royal Highland Show
SNP MEP Ian Hudghton and Aileen Campbell MSP at the Royal Highland Show

There has been a prediction that there will be a bitter harvest for Clydesdale’s farmers from last month’s Brexit vote.

It comes from the area’s MSP Aileen Campbell who claimed this week that not only the area’s vital agricultural industry but rural life as a whole will lose out on millions of pounds of European funding due to the coming withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

Over the next six years alone, she says the cost to the Scottish countryside of Brexit will amount to £364m in lost funding.

Deflecting accusations that her party, the SNP, is motivated to paint the darkest possible picture of a non-EU future to prompt a second Scottish independence referendum, she claims her figures come from a neutral source.

She said that her statistics had come from “a report from the non-partisan Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe).

“The report showed that 28 per cent of the funding dedicated to the Scottish Rural Development Programme comes directly from the European Union. Over the programme’s six-year funding period - between 2014 and 2020 - this equates to £364m of funding.

“This money is used to support the rural economy, agricultural and forestry businesses, and help with targeted action on climate change and rural broadband.”

She went on: “It is vital that Scotland is not dragged out of the EU against our will and these latest figures highlight this.

“Every region of Scotland voted to remain in the EU. The Tory government should not be jeopardising this funding for rural communities by dragging Scotland out of the EU and the SNP will continue to do what we can to protect our place in it.”

During the referendum NFU Scotland took a pro-Remain stance and it has now asked for post-Brexit assurances from both UK and Scottish Governments to protect the industry.

President Allan Bowie said: “It is in everyone’s interests that Scotland has a successful farming sector and that the negotiated future trading relationship with Europe and the rest of the world results in a profitable and competitive agricultural industry in Scotland.“

In a statement, the union set out the commitments it now wants, these including the continued payments of EU subsidies for at least the next four years, given that so much forward financial planning by farmers has already been based on them.

There is also a call for Leave negotations to win the best possible deal on possible tariffs and other potentially damaging penalties; there is a strong demand that the farming industry not be sacrificed as a “bargaining chip” in forthcoming talks on Britain’s trade relations with the rest of Europe.

Recognition of the special status of the Scotch beef and lamb ‘brands’ must continue and any unnecessary red tape must now be removed from the farming industry to allow farmers to concentrate on being competitive in the new trading conditions they now face.