Scots demand 80% of future funding goes to farmers as direct payments

NFU Scotland is demanding that four-fifths of all future support to agriculture should be made as direct payments to farmers, as Scotland moves towards a new post-Brexit policy from 2025 onwards.

The demand is contained in a letter to rural affairs secretary Mari Gougeon, ahead of a debate in Holyrood on Thursday afternoon (24 May) on the future of agricultural policy.

The Scottish government has already published its Vision for Agriculture, and intends to introduce an agriculture bill in the next parliamentary year.

See also: ‘Pitiful’ policy in Scotland forcing farmers to scale back

That vision includes a four-tier system of support, with “base payments” to support farmers, “enhanced payments” to encourage environmental delivery, “elective payments” to bolster nature, and “complementary support” for things such as training and advice.

With £620m of Scottish agricultural support coming from Westminster, NFU Scotland (NFUS) president Martin Kennedy is adamant that this level of support continues beyond 2024.

But he is even more insistent that the proportion of money which currently goers out as direct payments – about 80% or £550m – should be maintained through Tier 1 and Tier 2 payments.

Direct support for Scotland’s farmers and crofters is currently delivered through the BPS, “greening”, coupled support for beef calves and upland sheep, and the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme.

“Guaranteeing that existing direct support will be delivered as both conditional area-based and action-based payments, in Tiers 1 and 2 respectively, will ensure farmers and crofters tackle the triple challenge of food, climate and biodiversity head on, and will see rural communities thrive,” said Mr Kennedy.

Furthermore, at least 50% of the money spent on direct support money should be paid as a base payment in Tier 1, with effective cross-compliance, and the remaining 50% should be targeted at Tier 2 enhanced measures, based on the same principles, NFUS adds.