PROMISES to farmers about their post-Brexit future have been broken – but there was sharp political disagreement this week over who did the breaking.

Scottish rural economy minister Fergus Ewing unleashed a broadside at the Conservative UK Government, accusing it of reneging on its pledge to to give farmers as much support – or perhaps even more – than they received under the auspices of the European Union.

At the same time, Scottish Conservatives have trumpeted the last minute trade deal with the EU as being a 'good one' for Scotland's farmers, and described the SNP as being 'relentlessly negative' about the industry's post-Brexit prospects.

Mr Ewing, writing in this edition of The Scottish Farmer, bluntly accuses Westminster of cutting funding for rural support – saying that between 2021 and 2025, Scotland will lose out on some £170 million.

"Quite simply and brazenly, they are breaking their promise that we would be better off by leaving the EU," said Mr Ewing.

"Worse, they have betrayed us on Bew. The UK Government publicly accepted the concept of ‘uplift’ for less productive areas as set out in the Bew Review. Despite this, no commitment of additional funding has been made after 2022 – right now this is leaving a £77.1 million gap in our budgets up to 2025.

"The Tories will claim they are honouring their manifesto pledge but facts are chiels that winna ding," said Mr Ewing. "They are deliberately ignoring the complex nature of spending across multi-annual frameworks that we enjoyed when in the EU – indeed, had we stayed in the EU and CAP, we would now have certainty and clarity on our funding envelope for the next five years."

Scottish Conservatives leader Doug Ross maintained that ScotGov should stop complaining and get on with using the UK's new-found 'freedom' to build a better farm support system.

"The deal allows Scottish farmers to finally cut ties with the bureaucratic CAP, allowing a system which aligns more closely to the needs of Scottish farming'" said Mr Ross. "With these freedoms, I believe that funding from the Scottish Government to modernise agriculture is needed now more than ever. Productivity has dropped for three years in a row; incomes are down by almost 10% while farm debt is at its highest since 1972. It’s now vital for the Scottish Government to start valuing and rewarding farmers for the important services they provide."

Weighing in for Scottish Labour, its rural affairs spokesman Colin Smyth said that there was 'no such thing' as a good deal for exiting the EU, as it would inevitably make it more difficult for the sector to access markets and labour.

"The trade deal cobbled together at the last-minute still leaves a huge amount of uncertainty and falls short of what was needed and promised," said Mr Smyth. "I know from speaking to farmers and crofters that many questions remain unanswered, from import standards to common frameworks to financial support. The UK and Scottish governments have failed continually to show the necessary sense of urgency and leadership on these issues."