Union Welcome for £51 Million Package to Support Sustainable Agriculture Transition from 2022 to 2024

Cabinet secretary commits to livestock numbers at conference

NFU Scotland has welcomed the announcement at its autumn conference in Dunfermline that a £51 million package will help Scotland’s farmers and crofters transition to a new agricultural policy.

The 160 online and in house delegates heard from Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Mairi Gougeon, who co-chairs the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB) charged with developing new proposals for sustainable farming support.   The Cabinet Secretary announced the National Test Programme, a £51m package to assist farmers and crofters through 2022 to 2024 to transition to a system of sustainable agriculture that will reduce GHG emissions and enhance biodiversity.

The package is a twin track approach made up of two components: Track One is to encourage farmers to improve their knowledge of current environmental performance and efficiency and will allow all those in receipt of a basic Agricultural Support payment to make a start in addressing GHG emissions reduction for their businesses. This will include public support for Carbon audits and Nutrient Management Plans and the establishment of a Livestock Data Performance Feedback Scheme.

Track Two is to design and test the tools and process necessary to reward land managers for the climate and biodiversity outcomes they deliver. This will evaluate how measuring environmental performance of farms will be managed in future and include the creation of a Conditionality Test Programme and an Active Livestock Management initiative for suckler beef farms.

When making the announcement, the Cabinet Secretary confirmed that Scottish Government does not support policies that promote reducing livestock numbers and that support payment rates will be maintained throughout the transition.

Welcoming the announcement, NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy, who co-chairs the ARIOB said: “I thank the Cabinet Secretary for reiterating her firm commitment that there will be absolutely no policy whatsoever to reduce livestock numbers in Scotland. One of the reasons I agreed to sit on the ARIOB was to make sure this did not happen, so finally putting that to bed is important.

“I welcome the £51m package to assist the industry in defining a baseline of where we are at present on individual farms and crofts. This will not only give us an individual picture of where we are starting from, it will also give us a national picture which will confirm that we are already starting from a good place in Scotland. This baselining will also inform the decisions we need to make in the future which in turn will showcase Scottish food production as being a major part of the solution to climate change and biodiversity, not the problem.

“I am still seriously disappointed that we do not have either a top up to the existing calf scheme or indeed a separate calf scheme payment to allow the beef sector to move earlier, given its willingness to address some of the issues it is facing. I am of the belief that beef could have led the way had there been the political will to do so.

“That said, taking this whole industry approach was always going to be the next stage and we cannot wait any longer.  The whole industry needs to know what is coming down the track and this is beginning to show that sense of direction for all sectors.  

“I am pleased as co-chair of ARIOB, that a clear steer on direction has been found and will be implemented, building on the excellent work and recommendations carried out by the Climate Change Farmer Led Groups. I and others on the ARIOB will be determined to hold Scottish government to account by delivering the next stages in developing the longer-term policy that I know we are all desperate to see.”

Contact Bob Carruth on 07788 927675

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 127/21

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