Following a debate on Scottish agriculture policy post-Brexit, Northern Isles MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur have written to the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, to seek assurances that future policy and legislation will be designed with input from island representatives.
Last week Mr Ewing announced that an Agriculture Bill will be brought to parliament to facilitate the continuation of payments to farmers and crofters following Brexit. A taskforce will begin work to simplify existing process, alongside a group of producers, consumers and environmental organisations who will look to drive longer term changes as agreed following a Liberal Democrat amendment to the government motion.
Mr Scott and McArthur argue these, and all future groupings, must include island representatives to ensure the perspective and needs of islands are taken into account.
Commenting, Mr Scott and Mr McArthur said:
“If the Scottish Government intends to respect the Islands Act in any meaningful way, the opinions of farmers and crofters from our islands must be heard loud and clear in the negotiations that lie ahead.
“Our farming and crofting communities are rightly anxious about what the future holds. While this is a familiar story across the country, the unique demands faced by the sector in the islands must be taken fully into account during any transition from the CAP.
“This is essential if the Government is to ensure the sustainability of farming and crofting in the isles. Anything else just risks another exercise in ‘one-size fits all’.”