The SNP has announced cuts worth tens of millions of pounds for projects aimed at helping Scotland’s farming communities.
In a written statement to the Scottish Parliament, rural affairs secretary Fergus Ewing said he was slashing support for less favourable areas by £40 million, with a further £42 million being removed from climate change schemes.
The announcement was made as part of a revision to the Scottish Rural Development Programme, which began in 2014 and will run until the end of the decade.
It is the latest funding blow for farmers on the back of the SNP’s mishandling of hundreds of millions of pounds in Common Agricultural Policy payments due to a botched IT system.
As part of the revision, the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme will have money reduced from £459 million to £419 million.
That’s money which supports businesses in areas of the country which are harder to farm successfully, particularly in remote areas.
In addition, the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme, which gives cash to farmers for green projects, will see its funding go down from £350 million to £308 million.
Local MSP Finlay Carson said there were now questions over how much the Scottish Government was investing in a scheme it originally said was worth £1.6 billion.
Commenting, Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson said:
“Money for farms in less favourable areas is absolutely vital.
“These are the businesses who need the investment most, and now it’s being reduced significantly by an SNP government which has turned its back on rural Scotland.
“When you consider the shambles of the CAP payments fiasco, it paints a grim picture for farmers in Dumfries and Galloway and across Scotland.
“This announcement effectively removes tens of millions of pounds from a sector that simply can’t afford it.
“It’s no wonder rural Scotland is deserting this nationalist government which is obsessed with Central Belt issues.”