Opinion: Future Scottish farm support must include a stability payment – Farmers Weekly

Change is nice, and most farmers, when requested, will most likely agree that it’s required and lengthy overdue.

Delving deeper, nonetheless, you’ll usually discover a terror – a concern of what could come. The certainty of a unhealthy system will usually trump the uncertainty of a new, probably higher means.

See additionally: Refocus farm coverage on meals safety says NFU Scotland

About the writer

Colin Ferguson

Colin Ferguson is a Farmers Weekly columnist and dairy farmer from the Machars Peninsula in south west Scotland. Along together with his dad and mom and brother, he milks 450 cows on two items supplying Arla Foods. Colin can also be the NFU Scotland regional chair for Dumfries & Galloway and a Scottish Enterprise rural chief.

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Much of this comes from previous experiences. Change has usually been pressured on us, with out session, due to this fact making it lower than good and requiring a large amount of effort and time to regulate.

Scotland’s farmers will quickly have a new Agriculture Bill to cope with, which can change how all future support is delivered, and affect how meals is produced.

Unlike in England, there may be a robust promise that the present system of direct funding will proceed in the identical type as much as 2024.

While offering some peace of thoughts till then, what comes subsequent is of big concern to meals producers throughout Scotland.

We do know some imprecise particulars of what to anticipate. Holyrood has set in stone its intention to maneuver 50% of all support to conditional funding.

This will make sure that half of what’s invested in Scottish agriculture can be used to encourage practices or put money into schemes that straight enhance the surroundings and biodiversity.

The hope is that the remaining funds proceed as a stability payment for farms. The significance of that is highlighted in our authorities’s personal figures, which present that solely 37% of farms generate a revenue earlier than support.

That determine turns into extra harrowing in upland combined programs, dropping to 19%, and as little as 7% in upland sheep enterprises.

NFU Scotland has set out its imaginative and prescient for future support in a collection of roadshows over the previous month. It is one which has not modified since its coverage doc, Steps to Change, was launched in 2018.

The complete proposal hinges on the premise of an actively farmed hectare (AFH), recoupling agricultural funds to those that are working the land to develop crops or rear livestock, whereas additional rewarding companies that take measures to cut back their impact on the surroundings.

The proposal has, on the entire, gone down properly with farmers, with lots of them seeing the necessity for a system that helps them and invests of their companies to develop into environment friendly at producing high-high quality meals, whereas defending the surroundings.

The union’s views should not the one pitch at play, nonetheless. People and organisations from inside and outdoors of agriculture want to see the tip to direct farming support utterly, with the funds invested extra closely in tackling the local weather and biodiversity crises.

Where I believe these proposals fail is in understanding the individuals who handle the land in Scotland, and their values. If they don’t work inside that worth system, it won’t drive change, it would simply create battle.

Regardless of which framework is chosen, the funds can be important. The present funds for agriculture in Scotland stands at £637m, with 91% of it delivered within the block grant from the Treasury.

The actual query is whether or not Westminster will proceed to fund direct support to Scotland’s farmers, whereas eradicating it from our English colleagues, and what strain that can place on the inner market, or on the Subsidy Control Bill presently going by means of Westminster.

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