Michael Gove has accused the Scottish Government of failing to provide certainty to farmers over agricultural funding post-Brexit.
The environment secretary said the lack of any agricultural bill from Holyrood was “deeply worrying” and Scottish farmers had “no certainty” about future payments once EU funding had ceased.
The comments come a month after the NFUS director of policy, Jonnie Hall, said ministers in Edinburgh had “no vision” over future policy.
Mr Gove, appearing before the Scottish Affairs Committee, said: “There’s no certainty on when the Scottish government is going to bring forward any agriculture bill and there’s therefore no certainty about when Scottish farmers will receive payments in the future.
“We have a bill which has gone through committee, but there is no bill and no whisper of a bill from the Scottish government.
“It is deeply worrying at this stage, when so much is being done south of the border to invest money in developing new pilots to sketch out a plan not just for the next five years but for the next seven years and beyond, that Scotland’s farmers face a greater degree of uncertainty.
“I don’t think the Scottish government is putting Scotland’s rural economy at the heart of its vision for the future in the way that it should.”
Mr Gove warned that while farmers across the rest of the UK would continue to receive payments in place of EU funding in a Brexit transition “Scottish farmers are not on the same firm legal ground”.
He added: “We want to ensure that they are and I stand ready to work with the Scottish Government in order to ensure that.”
Mr Gove, addressing concerns over EU seasonal farm workers, also appeared to break ranks with his colleagues in the Home Office by suggesting a more nuanced approach to a salary threshold for skilled workers, which under current draft proposals stands at £30,000.
He said: “I think this committee will accept, as I do, that you need to take a more sector-specific approach, so you can have people working in the meat trade who are skilled butchers, who will be earning less than that.
“You can have some people who are veterinarians who are critical for making sure animal health is upheld who might be earning less than that.
“We do need to take account of that.”
The Tory leadership hopeful also fleshed-out his proposal to allow Westminster to spend in devolved areas.
He said cash could be spent directly on “supporting Scotland’s producers to export”, while investment could also be made in agritech.
Mr Gove dismissed accusations that this was a “power grab”, saying: “I want to emphasise the fact that the UK Government is determined to ensure the strength of our United Kingdom and the institutions of the union and that the power of the Treasury is used to provide support for Scotland’s rural communities and indeed every Scot.”
The Scottish Government declined to comment on Mr Gove’s words.