NFU SCOTLAND has told the Scottish Government that it cannot adopt 'business as usual' and has a responsibility to prepare industry for the policy changes.

The farming body has reported unprecedented levels of member engagement, as it submits it views to the agricultural transition consultation which will set the direction of travel for a new future Scottish agricultural policy outside the EU.

NFUS Director of Policy, Jonnie Hall said: “The future delivery of support under agricultural policy in Scotland must enable every farm and croft, regardless of size, type or location, to play its part in delivering on the trio of food production, climate ambitions and biodiversity enhancement.

“It is clear that the political, economic and social context in which Scottish agriculture now finds itself has changed dramatically and the weight of expectation on delivery rests increasingly with farmers and crofters. Consequently, agricultural policy must change significantly and the responsibility of enabling farmers and crofters to deliver sits firmly with Scottish Government and a new, properly funded policy package."

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He went on to argue that the scale and urgency of the change that is required in the next few years cannot be overstated.

"Given the array of targets that Scottish agriculture has a key role in attaining, the Scottish Government cannot adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach until 2025," he continued. "It has a responsibility to prepare industry.

“The most recent Programme for Government commits to ‘conditional’ support and states that by 2025, half of all funding for farming and crofting will be moved from unconditional to conditional support, with targeted outcomes for low carbon approaches and biodiversity gain. That is a fundamental shift in approach that industry must be ready for.

“The recently announced National Test Programme will begin in spring 2022, with up to £51 million of investment over the following three years, to financially support farmers and crofters to establish a clear baseline and options for action. That ‘kick-start’ is what Scottish agriculture needs in the 2022 to 2024 period if the right tools and support are to be in place from 2025, when the climate and biodiversity performance of businesses is likely to determine the level of agricultural support received."