National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland has said it has received an 'unprecedented level of response' from its farmers and crofters to inform its submission of response to a government consultation published in late summer.

The union has made a statement, inclusive of its members and stakeholders engagement, in response to the consultation titled ‘Agricultural Transition – First Steps Towards Our National Policy’, published on August 25.

The response

The union is calling on the Scottish government to put a future agricultural policy in place that enables the industry to deliver on food production, climate change ambitions and biodiversity enhancement.

NFU believes this is a defining moment in Scottish agriculture that must be acted upon; Scotland is transitioning from leaving the European Union and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to a new Scottish policy.

The union calls on this period to be a catalyst for change and for policy to be redefined.

Director of policy, Jonnie Hall said: “This a defining moment for the future of Scottish agriculture.”

“This is the time for action and the opportunity exists to implement a uniquely Scottish agricultural policy that enables a sustainable and profitable future for Scottish agriculture as it delivers outcomes in everyone’s interests.

The future delivery of support under agricultural policy in Scotland must enable every farm and croft, regardless of size, type or location, to play its part in delivering on the trio of food production, climate ambitions and biodiversity enhancement.

“It is clear that the political, economic and social context in which Scottish agriculture now finds itself has changed dramatically and the weight of expectation on delivery rests increasingly with farmers and crofters.

"Consequently, agricultural policy must change significantly and the responsibility of enabling farmers and crofters to deliver sits firmly with Scottish Government and a new, properly funded policy package.

“The scale and urgency of the change that is required in the next few years cannot be overstated. Given the array of targets that Scottish agriculture has a key role in attaining, the Scottish Government cannot adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach until 2025.  It has a responsibility to prepare industry.

The most recent Programme for Government commits to ‘conditional’ support and states that by 2025, half of all funding for farming and crofting will be moved from unconditional to conditional support, with targeted outcomes for low carbon approaches and biodiversity gain.  That is a fundamental shift in approach that industry must be ready for.

“The recently announced National Test Programme will begin in spring 2022, with up to £51 million of investment over the following three years, to financially support farmers and crofters to establish a clear baseline and options for action. That ‘kick-start’ is what Scottish agriculture needs in the 2022 to 2024 period if the right tools and support are to be in place from 2025, when the climate and biodiversity performance of businesses is likely to determine the level of agricultural support received.

“NFU Scotland is certain that only active farming can deliver on these objectives and still meet our ambition to grow our food and drink sector.  In doing so, we will continue to deliver for the Scottish economy and the nation.”