The National Farmers' Union (NFU) Scotland has stated that it has written to the Scottish government to request clarity on future agri-environment management schemes in order to secure the confidence of Scottish farmers and crofters.

The NFU wants farmers to continue to deliver on biodiversity and climate change outcomes whilst producing high-quality, sustainable food.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said:

"Whilst pilots are underway for the 2021 to 2024 period, it is regrettable that during this interim period there is no clear commitment to allow and encourage farmers and crofters to undertake and deliver on a wide range of environmental benefits and public goods.

"With over 3,000 farms crofts and estates enrolled in the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme, it has a strong buy-in from the industry and is one of the most effective mechanisms to ensure that farmers, crofters and land managers are incentivised and rewarded for delivering on environmental issues.

It is disappointing that there is no clear commitment to allow and encourage farmers and crofters to undertake biodiversity measures, water quality improvements, flooding mitigation, organic conversion, public access provision, and the like.

"There must be no gap in support for agri-environment support to ensure farmers and crofters have the confidence in future schemes to continue to come forward with proposals and applications and ensure Scotland continues to deliver on environmental goals."

UK-Japan trade deal 'welcomed'

Meanwhile, the NFU has welcomed a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and Japan.

The UK’s trade pact with the world’s third largest economy aims to increase trade between the countries by around £15 billion.

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International Secretary of State Liz Truss has called the announcement a “historic moment” for the UK, and stated that it will bring “new wins” for British food and drink.

The deal will mean that around 99% of exports between the two nations will be tariff-free, with a particular focus on food and drink.

The NFU welcomed the announcement as it had lobbied for a deal which did not disadvantage British farmers.

The union said it sought the same level of market access for the UK that was afforded to EU farmers through the EU-Japan deal.

This trade agreement, which the NFU called “very positive”, will see around 85% of EU agri-food products allowed to enter Japan duty-free over time.