Minister “must listen” to farming industry ahead of draft budget

Mr Chapman says it is time to stop blaming Westminster, and focus on what Holyrood can do for our agriculture sector.
Mr Chapman says it is time to stop blaming Westminster, and focus on what Holyrood can do for our agriculture sector.

North-east MSP Peter Chapman has urged Derek Mackay to “listen” to the farming industry ahead of the Scottish budget next week.

The SNP Finance Secretary will lay out his draft spending plans for 2019/20 on Wednesday.

In advance of his announcement, NFU Scotland has set out its stall in terms of what it wants to see for the rural economy.

Scottish Conservative MSP Mr Chapman said Mr Mackay must “stop blaming Westminster”.

The north-east MSP and farmer has repeatedly called for the SNP government to set out a clear post-Brexit farming policy, and expressed concern that Scotland has fallen behind other parts of the UK in preparations for leaving the EU.

Mr Chapman said: “Farming barely merited a mention in the SNP’s programme for government, but Derek Mackay must now listen to the industry.

“It is time to stop blaming Westminster, and focus on what Holyrood can do for our agriculture sector.

“I support the NFUS call to look again at the New Entrants scheme and at the application of sporting rates.

“And I will back the Cabinet Secretary in making the case for the fairest possible split of post-Brexit funding across the UK.

“But this must be done constructively, and without political grandstanding.

“This parliament will have control over agricultural policy after we leave the EU.

“We must prepare for that to ensure that our farmers and crofters are supported and our food and drink industry can continue to thrive.”