Scottish farmers need compensation in the event of a no-deal Brexit, believes Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing.
The Scottish Government stated that “a wealth of evidence now indicates that Scotland’s farmers would be worse off under every scenario when compared with the current trade arrangements, with some or all producers facing lower returns”.
It wants to see targeted support for sheep farmers in particular, as a no-deal could be worth £390m of annual sheep meat exports, as 90% of these are destined for the European market. The Scottish Government is demanding compensation be ready for farmers if they are hit with the proposed tariffs – as high as 45-50%.
“A no-deal Brexit is by far the biggest threat to farming and to our successful food and drink sector.
That is why I am calling on the UK Government to guarantee that farmers will be compensated in the event of a no-deal
"There is a range of independent research highlighting that under all possible scenarios, failure to replicate the current trade arrangements with the EU will have a detrimental impact on farmers, with our sheep sector under particular threat,” said Ewing.
“I am clear that we cannot countenance the prospect under no-deal of our exports facing high tariffs into the EU, while imports from the EU are waved through tariff-free. The UK government needs to set out its policy on tariffs now, so that businesses are clear what they will have to contend with.
"That is why I am calling on the UK Government to guarantee that farmers will be compensated in the event of a no-deal.
Scottish agriculture needs a deal to be brokered before it is too late
“Failure to do so would increase the risk of businesses going under, significantly reduce net profitability across beef, sheep and crops sectors, and lead to widespread land abandonment across Scotland.”
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “The Union’s position on a no-deal Brexit remains that it is totally unacceptable and would be catastrophic for farmers and crofters. Unfortunately, we seem to be hurtling towards this as a likely outcome.
“Scottish agriculture needs a deal to be brokered before it is too late. It cannot afford to enter into a situation where there are no trade deals and no access to EU workers.
“In the event of a no-deal Brexit, Scotland’s livestock sector will be more reliant than ever on support payments, which are already critical for business viability. Scottish farmers and crofters will need to be able to rely on a system which delivers their payments effectively.
“One option would be to seek a funding package from the UK Treasury, ring-fenced and paid via the Scottish Government, to bolster the existing support payments mechanisms. This could allow all businesses to be cushioned through an inevitably turbulent period.”