Scottish Government Proposals on Slurry and Silage are ‘Excessively Blunt and Ill-Thought-Out’

Hundreds of Scottish farmers and crofters respond to Union survey on damaging and costly storage and spreading proposals

NFU Scotland has condemned Scottish Government proposals for silage, slurry and digestate as excessively blunt and ill-thought-out.

Responding to Scottish Government’s worrying consultation on the storage of silage, slurry and digestate and the application of slurry and digestate to land as fertiliser, the Union has highlighted significant and potentially damaging costs associated with the proposals in relation to unknown benefits.

More than 540 members across Scotland – looking after 140,000 cows and 17,000 pigs - responded to a recent Union survey.  Case studies from all parts of the nation have been included in the Union’s response, clearly identifying the huge costs that would be associated with the Scottish Government’s poorly considered proposals.

Commenting on the Union’s submission to the Scottish consultation, President Martin Kennedy said: “NFU Scotland fully supports policies and practices that aim to reduce emissions and diffuse pollution associated with agricultural activity and believes all farm businesses can and should play their part in meeting climate change challenges and safeguarding water quality. There are no excuses for bad practice in this area, but a policy balance of regulation, support and advice must be struck.  

“However, responses from our membership clearly show that, if unchanged or unsupported, these proposals bring a costly overreliance on regulatory compliance that is highly unlikely to yield the desired policy outcomes.  Instead, they may lead to very damaging unintended consequences of people leaving the industry.

“Scottish Government must recognise the huge impact that its proposals would have on Scottish agriculture.  Through the hundreds of responses we received, from Shetland to Stranraer, it is abundantly clear that what is on the table would add a huge cost burden to farmers and crofters.

“That is a cost burden that would not be recovered from the marketplace for our produce and are additional costs that farmers in many other competing nations would not have to bear.

“The case studies show that Scottish Government’s anticipated benefits of reduced emissions and improved water quality are likely to be relatively insignificant and dwarfed by the negative financial impacts on a significant number of agricultural businesses.  That has economic implications for Scottish agriculture, Scotland’s rural economy and the wider supply chain.

“NFU Scotland undertook its own research in this area as, disappointingly, no meaningful impact analysis was provided by the Scottish Government as to the number and type of agricultural businesses that would be affected by the regulatory proposals.  Therefore, the consultation included scant recognition and no comprehension of the potential financial costs for affected businesses or key sectors.

“NFU Scotland’s interest and commitment to the environmental issues is unquestionable.  However, if Scottish Government is to pursue this, then a proportionate and enabling regulation is required, as well as effective financial support.  Both are needed to deliver the desired environmental outcomes without excessive, punitive or business threatening costs to individual farm businesses. Public goods should not be met by private costs.”  

Notes to Editors

  • A copy of NFU Scotland’s response to the Scottish Government consultation: ‘Silage, slurry and anaerobic digestate: improving storage and application’, including case studies and the results of NFU Scotland’s extensive membership survey is attached.


Contact Bob Carruth on 07788 927675

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 66/21

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About The Author

Bob Carruth

A dairy farmer’s son, I joined NFU Scotland in 1999 after 13 years as an agricultural journalist. Following spells as a regional manager and policy lead on milk, livestock and animal health and welfare, I became Communications Director in 2008.

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