The UK Government should use Brexit as an opportunity to “rewrite the rules of agricultural funding”, according to MPs.
In a report published by Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee, MPs said leaving the EU presents a chance to address failings in the current formula.
The committee found the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has led to Scottish farms and crofts receiving low levels of funding.
It is now urging the UK Government to move away from what it calls an “outdated method” of allocating funding, which has “failed to reflect Scotland’s unique agricultural conditions and practices”.
Recommendations are made in the report to introduce a new system whereby a nation’s proportion of less favoured land is key to determining how much funding it receives.
It suggests revising the formula would help to ensure farmers and crofters working in challenging conditions receive the most support.
The UK Government’s pilot seasonal agriculture scheme was also criticised in the report for not providing enough workers to address Scotland’s agricultural workforce crisis.
MPs called on the government to increase the pilot to 10,000 workers and scrap application and visa interview fees to open the scheme to all workers.
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Committee chairman Pete Wishart said: “Scotland has some of the most challenging farming environments in the UK and yet Scottish farming is the cornerstone of Scottish food and drink industry, and farms and crofts remain central to many thriving communities.
“It is nonsensical that funding through the CAP has not recognised these challenging conditions so my committee is calling on the UK Government to take Brexit as an opportunity to rewrite the rules of agricultural funding.
“A country’s environmental conditions and situation should be a central tenet of its funding settlement.
“If the government accepts this principle, Scotland will be likely to receive a significantly greater proportion of funding, allowing the agricultural sector to realise its full potential.”
Mr Wishart added: “The government must also do much more to resolve the workforce crisis on Scottish farms. The seasonal workers pilot must be quadrupled in size.
“The uncertainty surrounding no-deal tariffs and future of geographical indications must also be resolved.
“My committee’s report makes workable recommendations that the UK Government should implement to give Scottish farmers and crofters cause for optimism about the future of agriculture post-Brexit.”