Holyrood has backed Scottish Liberal Democrat plans to establish an independent group to examine how rural funding is delivered in Scotland.
The Scottish Government voted for an amended motion tabled by North East MSP Mike Rumbles that will see a team of stakeholders and experts set up to explore options for the future of rural support in Scotland, irrespective of whether the UK leaves the EU in 2020.
Mr Rumbles, the party’s spokesperson for rural affairs, said: “This is good news for our rural communities and will help secure the future of our rural economy.
“In recent months I have spoken to many stakeholders and organisations who are concerned by the lack of preparation to secure this funding. Most agree that this is the correct way to proceed, so I’m delighted the parliament agreed to back our plans.”
He added: “Should the UK leave the EU, hundreds of millions of pounds of Common Agricultural Policy subsidies may end for our rural businesses and stakeholders.
“The future of funding and support for our rural communities is now hugely uncertain. That is why I have been calling on the Scottish Government to set up a team of specialists to advise the government on the best way to create a system of support that works to the strengths of Scotland’s rural economy.
“It is vital that we take this opportunity to involve rural businesses, stakeholders and policy makers in that process and get the best deal we can.”