Welcome support for rural Scotland in face of Brexit chaos

Kate Forbes MSP has said the SNP’s draft budget proposals will come as great news for businesses and communities across the Highlands, despite a Tory ‘sell-out’ of rural Scotland.

With no guarantee on the future of support for Scottish farmers post-Brexit, the Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP has announced plans to deliver £580 million through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for as long as it applies to Scotland.

While maintaining payments at the maximum permitted level for the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme, will offer stability for crofters in the most rural and remote areas.

Last month, Mr Mackay also outlined plans to commit more than £74 million to the Rural Enterprise budget, which funds Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership.

Farmers, crofters and a number of rural development projects will also gain support from a £35 million investment in the Scottish Government’s Rural Services budget.

Funding support for Scotland’s marine and coastal communities to the tune of £5.9 million is also planned, helping encourage employment, innovation and investment in communities.

MSPs will vote on the proposals next month.

Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “With this inept UK government incapable of offering any reassurances to our rural industries – for over two years now - the Finance Secretary’s draft budget proposals will come as great news for businesses and communities across the Highlands.

“There are so many questions about agricultural payments, particularly in more fragile areas, as well as other support in rural areas which we in the Highlands have benefited from.

“There are even more questions about tariffs on seafood, meat and drink and what that means for farmers, crofters and fishermen.

“This is a sell-out of rural Scotland placing jobs, businesses and livelihoods in the Highlands at risk in the process. That’s why it’s so important that this year’s budget supports rural areas of the country.

“I would urge politicians from the Highlands and Islands to get behind the Finance Secretary’s plans and secure much needed support for our rural communities in this time of deep uncertainty.”

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