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Comments made by Conservative leadership front-runner Boris Johnson over the weekend with regard to future farm subsidies for Scotland after Brexit prompted a cautious welcome from NFU Scotland.
NFUS president Andrew McCornick said: ‘While we seek greater clarity on how such a support pledge could be funded among competing demands on HM Treasury, this statement is cautiously welcomed by NFU Scotland.
‘Since the decision was taken in 2013 to distribute additional Common Agricultural Policy funding among the four nations of the UK, NFU Scotland has consistently campaigned to redress the funding shortfall suffered by Scottish farmers and crofters.
‘With a review into intra-UK allocations of funding now finally under way, NFU Scotland has fed in its strong view that this injustice must be redressed due to Scotland’s below average area payment rates.
‘Looking ahead after Brexit, NFU Scotland is calling on the UK government to commit to a ring-fenced funding arrangement for agriculture that delivers at least the same quantum of funding to agricultural businesses allowing them to improve their productivity, profitability and their environmental delivery.
‘Our key demands on Brexit remains unchanged. We must avoid a no deal. If we were to shift to tariffs under the UK government’s proposed no deal tariff schedule, severe damage would be inflicted upon the whole agri-food industry, impacting not just our important export trade with Europe and the rest of the world, but also potentially opening up the UK market to imported produce that has been produced to lesser standards.
‘The new Prime Minister must recognise that in such an event, the market support required by industry from government will be significant and will far surpass £25 million, which will be a drop in the ocean compared to the financial damage that could be inflicted on industry.
‘With Mr Johnson and Jeremy Hunt visiting Scotland last week for their Scottish hustings, NFU Scotland wrote to both candidates setting out in detail our concerns and priorities from any future Brexit deal.
‘We would also welcome any opportunity to hear directly from Mr Johnson on how this commitment could be fulfilled should he become Prime Minister.’