Call to give farmers urgent clarity by fast-tracking publication of Scottish Gov’s rural support plan before 2025

27/03/2024
Tim Eagle MSP

TIM Eagle MSP has called on the Scottish Government to give “urgent clarity” to North farmers and crofters by fast-tracking the publication of its rural support plan before 2025.

The Scottish Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, who is also a farmer, made the call ahead of a Stage One debate in the Scottish Parliament this week on the Agricultural and Rural Communities Bill which he will be participating in.

While the parliament’s cross-party committee backed the general principles of the bill, they have also called on ministers to provide more detail on their plans for the sector.

Mr Eagle said farmers, crofters and residents in rural communities across Moray and the Highlands have been kept “in the dark” for far too long and believes it would be “wholly unacceptable” if a rural support plan was not published before 2025.

Ahead of the first stage of the debate, the Scottish Conservatives have set out several key points which must be included in the plan to help farmers and Mr Eagle said he will press ministers at every turn to make sure they are included.

These include ensuring food security is front and centre of the bill, reversing alignment with the European Union, committing to multi-annual funding plans, backing Scottish Conservative plans to ensure that where it’s possible, local authorities source produce from within 60 miles of their local area, and ensuring the sector is not used as a “scapegoat” as the country aims to hit ambitious net zero targets.

Scottish Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, Tim Eagle, said: “This long-awaited bill still fails to provide any sort of proper detail for our farmers, crofters and the wider agricultural sector on what future support will look like.

“Ahead of the bill being debated in the Scottish Parliament for the first time, SNP-Green ministers need to give that urgent clarity to the sector.

“They have been kept in the dark for far too long and it would be wholly unacceptable if their rural support plan was not published before next year, which is their current plan.

“Given their neglect of rural communities during their 17 years in office, they have some brass neck tagging the word rural onto this bill. They have abandoned them at every turn with their central-belt obsessed agenda.

“We have set out several key points ahead of this debate and I will be holding SNP-Green ministers to account to ensure this bill is one that delivers for farmers, crofters and communities across Moray and the Highlands.”

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