Scotland’s farmers and landowners will tell MSPs tomorrow the replacement for the Common Agricultural Policy after Brexit must have a UK-wide framework so the British market is not fragmented.
NFU Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates will warn against the creation of internal UK trade barriers by having entirely different systems of agriculture support north and south of the Borders.
But they support Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for all agriculture powers that are repatriated from Brussels to be devolved, provided that the Scottish Government then negotiate with Westminster to provide a single UK framework.
In a submission to a Holyrood inquiry ahead of tomorrow’s meeting, Scottish Land & Estates warned the First Minister that rejecting an “over-arching” UK framework could see farm support cut in half.
UK ministers could make agricultural funding subject to the Barnett formula, the landowners warned, meaning Scotland getting a population share of around nine per cent of total CAP funds instead of the 16 per cent currently allocated.
Their interventions came after Ms Sturgeon accused the Tories of planning a “power grab” after Brexit by refusing to devolve all the responsibilities currently exercised by the EU that relate to Holyrood’s policy areas.
However, Theresa May said the devolution settlement had been designed in 1998 without any thought of Brexit and warned against “unintended consequences” that would undermine the integrity of the UK.
The Prime Minister indicated that Westminster would set up the frameworks for the replacement schemes to the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy to ensure there was no fragmentation of the British market. Further powers over delivering would be devolved to give the Scottish Parliament flexibility.
In a submission to Holyrood’s rural economy committee, Scottish Land & Estates agreed there needed to be “some sort of UK wide agricultural policy framework.”
“This is simply a pragmatic position based on our belief that it is important to maintain a functioning UK-wide agricultural system,” it said.
“We believe that, ultimately, some level of UK cooperation or policy co-ordination will be required and that it should be possible to achieve that without Scotland losing any powers.”
It said there were different ways of achieving this goal, including Scotland gaining total control over agriculture then bargaining with the UK Government, or via an agreement to share power through a CAP replacement.
But it warned that the total devolution of agriculture powers repatriated from Brussels may make it more difficult for the UK Government to negotiate international trade deals and create internal barriers to trade.
NFU Scotland also said there must be a commonly agreed framework, with the UK and Scottish governments agreeing what measures should be included in it.
“It is equally vital that, in order to prevent distortion of intra-UK trade, that devolved agricultural policies do not diverge significantly,” its submission said.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Agriculture and rural policy are fully devolved areas and the Scottish Government must retain its power to manage policy and determine funding levels appropriately.
"We will strongly oppose any attempt to repatriate powers from Brussels to Westminster instead of the Scottish Parliament."
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