Scotland’s Rural Economy Minister Fergus Ewing has pledged to leave no stone unturned to ensure farmers and crofters continue to receive support payments to stay on the land.
Speaking at a Royal Highland Show breakfast within hours of the referendum result being announced, Mr Ewing said farmers would be the most anxious and affected of all sectors and they therefore required the uncertainty about their future to be removed as swiftly as possible.
With EU subsidies to Scotland’s farming industry worth 4.6 billion euros between 2014-2020 and food and drink exports to the EU worth £1.9 billion in 2015 alone, the significance of the referendum result is clear.
“Farmers and crofters will wake up all over the country to ask themselves what the future may hold,” Mr Ewing said.
“It is important to reassure [them] that the UK is not coming out of the EU today or tomorrow.
“The Scottish Government will be pressing the UK Government to provide clarity as to the future of farm subsidy payments. They are necessary for the farming and crofting communities and vital for the Less Favoured Areas. There will be farmers, especially in the LFA – which is most of Scotland – who will be extremely concerned.”
Mr Ewing pointed out that the UK Government has previously said it has no plan B for the farming industry.
He added: “They have zilch. No details, no information. Plainly now that there has been what’s being described as an historic democratic catastrophe, that gap must be filled as quickly as possible. The farming community are entitled above all others to reassurance as swiftly as possible.”
NFU Scotland president Allan Bowie said the union would ensure it was at the centre of any discussions on new arrangements for the food and farming sector.
“What will be key for Scottish agriculture will be delivery on the commitments made in the campaign about support levels for agriculture in the event of a Brexit vote and to seek reassurances on terms of trade with rest of Europe and worldwide in the future,” he said.
“With the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, the political implications of the vote are huge. The political landscape across the UK is now in a period of flux and speculation is likely to be unhelpful.
“What is clear, is that there was strong support to remain in the EU across every part of Scotland and that was in stark contrast to the majority of the UK. There is considerable debate already as to what the EU referendum means with regards to any potential future vote on Scottish independence.”