UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove has left “too many questions unanswered” about the impact of Brexit on farming subsidies, his Holyrood counterpart has claimed.

While Mr Gove said the UK Government will maintain current farming subsidies for five years, Fergus Ewing, Scottish Rural Economy Secretary, said he had been seeking assurances on the key issue for 18 months.

Although he welcomed the guarantee that basic Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments will continue for that period, he claimed that Mr Gove’s speech addressing the issue “leaves far too many questions unanswered for any comfort to be taken”.

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The minister hit out after Mr Gove used his address to the Oxford Farming Conference to set out plans for food and farming after Brexit, including a switch away from the ‘’unjust and inefficient’’ subsidies paid through the EU.

Mr Gove outlined how he wants to see taxpayers’ money going in future years to environmental protection, increasing public access to the countryside, and on technology, skills, infrastructure, and supporting rural communities.

The UK currently benefits from about £3 billion a year in farm subsidies, with Mr Gove saying he envisaged farm payments continuing for five years from 2019.

But during that time he aims to curb the largest subsidies, with a maximum cap or a sliding scale of reductions.

And in the future, taxpayers’ money would only go on paying for public goods that the market does not provide.

Mr Ewing said: “The guarantee of the continuation of CAP basic payments for five years after Brexit is welcome – something that I have sought since the referendum and, importantly, something that we were promised by Brexit campaigners.”

But he added: “While this guarantee provides a degree of certainty and clarity, it does not cover a whole variety of vital support schemes such as for our hill farmers, sheep and beef support, new entrants, and forestry and environmental support programmes, which are crucial to ensure the continued economic well-being of all of Scotland’s rural communities

“I have continually highlighted to Mr Gove the fact that without support for our hill farmers – under the LFASS (Less Favoured Area Support Scheme) scheme continuing in Scotland – many of them would give up farming and the impacts on rural Scotland would be devastating.

“So while the guarantees issued today are welcome, having been sought by me for nearly a year-and-a-half - it leaves far too many questions unanswered for any comfort to be taken.”

Speaking ahead of the Government's agriculture plans being published in the spring, Mr Gove said the way that financial support had been provided to farmers had been far too bureaucratic, with "near-pointless" box-ticking exercises and multiple inspections, and promised simplified systems in the future.

Mr Gove told the conference: "Building on previous countryside stewardship and agri-environment schemes, we will design a scheme accessible to almost any land owner or manager who wishes to enhance the natural environment by planting woodland, providing new habitats for wildlife, increasing biodiversity, contributing to improved water quality and returning cultivated land to wildflower meadows or other more natural states.

"We will also make additional money available for those who wish to collaborate to secure environmental improvements collectively at landscape scale."

He also said that ensuring public access to the countryside was a public good, though he acknowledged it was a "contentious issue".

But he added: "The more the public, and especially schoolchildren, get to visit, understand and appreciate our countryside, the more I believe they will appreciate, support and champion our farmers."