As MSPs take their seats in Holyrood after the summer recess, NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy has written to the First Minister urging support to secure a viable future Scotland’s farmers and crofters.

In the letter, Mr Kennedy argues that “clear and unequivocal” backing from the First Minister for agriculture and putting food production at the heart of Government policy would send an important signal to the industry and provide the confidence needed to invest in the future.

The letter adds the support would recognise the vital role the industry has in the delivery of the Scottish Government’s outcomes around food, climate, and biodiversity.

Mr Kennedy also points to the “raft of emerging policy and regulatory changes to contend with” including new targets and measures relating to emissions reductions and net zero.

The letter goes on to identify five key areas where the Scottish Government must assist the sector.

The first area is to put food production at the heart of future agricultural policy. An Agriculture Bill that recognises agricultural activity, drives efficiency and productivity while building resilience and enhancing the environment will deliver the Scottish Government’s aspirations on food security and supply.

Secondly, the NFUS calls for increased, multi-annual and ring-fenced commitment on future funding support. The organisation argues that investment in Scotland’s farmers and crofters is critical to ensure food security, promote a prosperous economy, respond to the climate challenge and help biodiversity recover and flourish.

Mr Kennedy also calls for a commitment to continue to allocate 80 percent of future funding as direct support to agriculture.

NFU Scotland also calls on the Scottish Government to ensure the Good Food Nation (Scotland) Act delivers for Scottish agriculture and the wider food and drink sector through the commitment to a ‘Scottish First’ policy for local sourcing through the forthcoming National Food Plan.

In addition, the letter urges a review of the regulatory burden on Scotland’s agricultural sector and asks that an urgent review is undertaken to assess the significant volume and range of policy and legislative measures emerging over the coming year and review the cumulative impact on farmers and crofters.

Finally, the NFUS asks the Scottish Government to help to raise the profile of the farming sector across all aspects of Scottish Government, parliament and society as a whole. The letter adds: “Agriculture is the lynchpin of rural communities across Scotland and is an important part of Scotland’s booming food and drink industry.”

It calls on Scottish Government to stimulate more demand for Scottish produce across a range of markets including retail and food service.

Mr Kennedy adds in the letter: “I believe the Scottish Government has an unprecedented opportunity through its policy and legislative programme to support Scotland’s farming industry to respond to the many challenges and seize our potential.

“Scottish Government backing will enable us to continue producing the food we need, accelerate our efforts to address the climate challenge, support biodiversity recovery and, critically, continue to be that economic and social lifeblood of communities the length and breadth of the country.

“Our contribution to the economy and the social fabric of Scotland is immense and we have more to give. But the next few years are going to be critical as decisions taken by the Scottish Government will shape the future of the industry for many years to come and, if the right decisions are made, will underpin our long-term viability.

“The First Minister’s commitment to support the five areas we have outlined is of vital importance to secure a sustainable, resilient and profitable agricultural sector for Scotland and we look forward to working with the First Minister to achieve that.”