SCOTLAND'S FARMING union has described £10million in funding to equip farms with the tools they need to respond to climate change as a 'positive first step forward'.

As part of the Scottish Government's Programme for Scotland 2020-21, a funding commitment of £10m towards a pilot grant scheme, the 'Sustainable Agriculture Capital Grant Scheme' (SACGS) has been announced, which will be open to applications from today – Monday September 7.

The scheme provides farmers and crofters with the opportunity to co-finance capital investment on farm to increase efficiencies. SACGS will provide capital grant funding of up to £20,000 for farmers and crofters to purchase specific items of agricultural equipment to cover 50% of capital items costs (or 60% if the business is in the Highlands and Islands).

The main objectives of the scheme are to protect and improve the natural environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and support sustainable farming and land use.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick commented: “This sort of assistance will be key in supporting Scottish agriculture in its positive response to the climate emergency and drive forward a green recovery from COVID-19.

“In our view, this initial funding commitment must be substantially built upon going forward to deliver climate change targets and support a more significant number of farmers and crofters from all sectors across Scottish agriculture tackle climate change, increase biodiversity and improve water and air quality," he stressed.

“Targeted support that is widely accessible to all sectors, providing a variety of options to suit different business types is required to drive a step change on farms and crofts.

“Scottish producers recognise that investing to improve their own business efficiency will reduce the volume of emissions per tonne of food produced and help drive efficiency and profitability," he continued.

“Significant capital investment in agricultural businesses is required if Scottish agriculture is to play as full a role as possible in supporting the Scottish Government’s ambitions around green growth.

“The SACGS pilot grant scheme is a positive first step forward in taking the transition to lower emissions in farming to the next level. We would support a much larger scheme to follow this pilot with more options that will allow every farm and croft to access measures appropriate to their business,” he concluded.

The wide list of items and equipment eligible for support under SACGS is available to view HERE