GREATER demands on industry to deliver high-quality food production, climate mitigation and biodiversity benefits must be reflected in future agricultural support budgets are the focus as NFU Scotland is using its attendance at political party conferences this autumn to call for all political parties to increase agricultural funding and commit to ringfenced multi-annual delivery in the future.

With funding only guaranteed until the end of the current parliament, and the likelihood of a general election next year, the Union is looking to all parties to include an increase of at least £1 billion in the UK Government’s annual commitment to UK farm funding – from approximately £3.7 billion to £4.7 billion – in manifesto pledges.

This multiannual ask for the duration of the next parliament would simply repeat the current commitment that has run since 2019, thereby giving certainty to farmers and crofters across the UK and particularly in Scotland.

NFUS will be writing to each of the main political parties to formally request that they include its proposals as commitments in their respective manifestos for the next General Election.

NFU Scotland’s delegation of President Martin Kennedy, Director of Policy Jonnie Hall, and political affairs manager Beatrice Morrice attended the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester and will be attending the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool. The Union will also be at the SNP party conference, with NFU Scotland holding a fringe event on Monday, October 16.

At its most recent Westminster visit, NFU Scotland met with Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Tim Farron MP and it welcomes the LibDems passing a motion at its autumn party conference supporting its call for an extra £1 billion per year to be added to the UK farming budget.

President Martin Kennedy said: “Farmers and crofters across the UK are being asked to do most of the heavy lifting to deliver the Government’s desired outcomes in terms of food production, climate, biodiversity, and wider rural development.

“Successful delivery on all these counts is entirely reliant on a profitable agricultural sector, given that more than 70 percent of the nation’s land is farmed, including farming and crofting in some of the most remote and rural parts of the country.

“We are being increasingly asked to deliver significantly more by way of public goods, which we will do, but that must not come at a growing private cost to businesses. All production costs have increased exponentially in the past five years due to factors out of our control yet the farm budget across the UK and Scotland has remained static. That means, in real terms, that there has been a significant decline in the real value of agricultural budgets, compounded by ag-inflation.

“Political parties must recognise and commit to a specific uplift in the farm budget through multi-annual and ringfenced funding from 2025 to 2029. In terms of the value, we seek an increase of at least £1 billion in the UK Government’s annual commitment to farm funding – from around £3.7 billion to £4.7 billion.

“That would equate to an additional sum of at least £170 million per year for Scotland and underpin the incredible work of Scotland’s farmers and crofters in delivering on our ambitions to be a Good Food Nation whilst meeting our obligations to tacking emissions and reversing biodiversity loss.”