NFU Scotland has received a categorical assurance from Scotland’s Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary, Shona Robison MSP that £33 million deferred from the agricultural budget last year will be returned to the agricultural budget this year.
In the Scottish Government’s Emergency Budget Review (EBR) in 2022 to support people and businesses through the unprecedented cost crisis, £33 million of funding awarded to Scotland as part of the 2019 Bew Review into the fair allocation of agricultural support in the UK was deferred.
In a meeting with NFU Scotland yesterday (15 June), the Deputy First Minister confirmed that the deferred budget of £33 million would be returned to the sector in future years, ensuring this money is ultimately used to deliver on Scotland’s rural priorities.
In terms of allocating that budget so that it delivers the best outcomes for Scotland’s farmer and crofters, NFU Scotland will now discuss the matter with the Cabinet secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, Mairi Gougeon MSP.
The Union had requested to meet with the Deputy First Minister and her team to discuss the rural affairs budget and how Scotland’s farmers and crofters continue to use that public support to deliver on food security, reducing emissions, nature restoration, supporting rural communities and growing the rural economy.
The meeting was attended by NFU Scotland President Martin kennedy, Director of Policy Jonnie Hall and Political Affairs Manager Beatrice Morrice.
Commenting on the commitment from the Deputy First Minister, Mr Kennedy said: “At NFU Scotland, we want to secure the future of farming and crofting, not just for our members but the thousands of jobs and businesses, located within rural communities across Scotland, which are supported by our sector. We welcomed the opportunity to discuss with the Deputy First Minister how we believe Scottish Government can support that ambition.
“As an important part of that wider discussion on funding, we were given categorical assurance that all of the £33 million uncommitted Bew funding will be returned to the Agriculture and Rural Economy portfolio.
“We now look forward to discussions with the Cabinet Secretary Mairi Gougeon and her team on the need to utilise it to best effect, particularly in terms of driving much needed investment and to build resilience across all agricultural sectors.”
Deputy First Minister Shona Robison said: “I was pleased to meet NFUS yesterday to discuss the central importance of Scotland’s farmers and crofters, and to reiterate the Scottish Government’s continued commitment to supporting them.
“By returning this £33 million to the agricultural budget, we can enhance our work to grow the rural economy and support communities. This support will help our farmers and crofters transition to global leadership in sustainable and regenerative farming as we produce more of our own food locally.”
In conclusion, Mr Kennedy added: “The Deputy First Minister extended an offer to establish a regular dialogue with NFU Scotland which we are pleased to accept, and we hope she can visit our marquee when she attends next week’s Royal Highland Show.”