Chapman calls for more 'positive' debate on Brexit

Peter Chapman says the discussion should now be focused on a new system that will have to be developed as the UK leaves the EU.
Peter Chapman says the discussion should now be focused on a new system that will have to be developed as the UK leaves the EU.

Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Peter Chapman has called for a more “positive” approach to the debate about post-Brexit farm subsidies in the UK.

The Scottish Conservative MSP was speaking after the SNP questioned the UK Government’s commitment to engaging with the EU on the future of farm payments this week.

The Conservatives have already pledged to maintain the current level of funding for the duration of the current parliament to 2022.

Mr Chapman said that the discussion should now be focused on a new system that will have to be developed as the UK leaves the EU.

He said: “It is right that politicians and the farming industry debate all of the issues around Brexit, but at the moment, the discussion is focused in the wrong direction.

“We should be talking about what the new system of farm payments will look like.

“The Conservative government has made clear that the current level of subsidies will be maintained until 2022.

“While that will provide some short-term reassurance to farmers, the crucial thing is how we devise a system going forward that better serves agriculture in Scotland and the UK.

“EU farming policy was far from perfect, and we have the opportunity for a fairer system of support that works in the interests of our producers.

"We need a system that is easier to apply for and easier to administer. It must direct support at the farmers that produce the high quality food that we rely on, while at the same time recognising that we need to protect the environment.

“I would like to see a more positive debate on that basis. Brexit is happening, whether we voted for it or not, and we need to take a pragmatic approach to ensure the best possible outcome.”