Producing high quality food against the backdrop of one of the most challenging springs on record is the priority, as NFU Scotland has written to Scottish Government with short and medium term asks that will enable our farmers, crofters and growers to continue to do this.

Agricultural businesses across Scotland, and the many businesses upstream and downstream that rely on them, have suffered as a result of sustained cold and wet weather.

The letter points out that lambing and calving have been extremely challenging, and that losses, late turnout and additional feeding requirements have resulted in significant financial and emotional pressures.

In our arable sectors, cereals and oilseeds businesses have, up until this week, been unable to get spring sown crops established, whilst winter sown crops have struggled so badly in some locations that they have been written off and will need resown.

Other routine but highly time-dependent tasks, such as fertiliser and plant protection product applications, have not been completed. This will result in yield and financial losses come harvest time. Again, creating physical and financial pressures.

In the short term, NFUS is asking for:

• A temporary suspension of all farm-based inspection requirements

• A pragmatic approach to enforcement of environmental regulations, including elements of the Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC), the Diffuse Pollution General Binding Rules (GBRs) and the requirements of Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZs) Action Plans.

• A temporary derogation from Ecological Focus Area (EFA) Fallow requirements under Greening rules.

• An immediate review of the The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (the ‘CARs’) to allow proactive water course management to protecting agricultural land from flooding risks.

• The creation of beaver ‘exclusion zones’ on very productive agricultural land protected by floodbanks.

In the medium term, NFUS is asking for:

• The return of £46m of still outstanding uncommitted funds to the Agriculture and Rural Economy (ARE) portfolio.

• Of which, £40m be returned as resource via a top up to Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Greening payments - equating to a pro rata top up of approximately 9.5% which could be delivered as part of the BPS 2024 payments schedule.

• The remaining £6 million to be spent as capital through a grant scheme open to all agricultural businesses to build resilience to weather extremes.

In the letter, president Martin Kennedy writes: “Farming and crofting have always been at the mercy of the weather, and it is obvious that every agricultural business must adapt and build resilience in the face of more extreme and less predictable weather.

“In helping to achieve that, we consider that the Scottish Government can and should act in the short and medium term to protect then enhance our unique role in the provision of food and public goods – a productive and resilient agricultural sector is key to the economic, environmental and social wellbeing of Scotland.”