After a short consultation on the proposal to transfer 9.5% of the direct farm support budget to rural development and agri-environment measures, the Scottish Government has announced that it intends to stick with its original proposal.
Scottish Land & Estates consulted its Primary Industries policy group and Board before submitting a response which signaled support for the proposal.
Our response highlighted that Scottish Land & Estates has a broad membership which ranges from farmers who are solely focused on farming, through larger estate businesses that include farming but also wider interests such as forestry, residential property and renewables, to members that are not engaged in farming but who are running rural businesses. Consequently our members’ views on this issue are diverse with some preferring to see direct support defended because of its importance in maintaining agricultural production and supporting the farming industry, while others would be
looking to the next SRDP to underpin real rural development and support a wide range of rural businesses and so want to see as much support available in the SRDP as possible.
As such, Scottish Land & Estates fully appreciates the balancing act that Scottish Government is seeking to perform. Direct support plays a vitally important role in underpinning the current farming sector and significant changes to it will have very real far-reaching consequences for individual
farm businesses. Yet, at the same time, Scotland needs a well-funded and well-functioning rural development programme to help deliver against a wider set of objectives such as meeting woodland creation and biodiversity targets and to help deliver wider rural development. Such a programme requires a transfer of funds from Pillar 1 and so a balance must be struck. Scottish Land & Estates took the view that the proposed transfer of 9.5% of the pillar 1 national ceiling in order to continue funding the SRDP at something akin to current levels appears to strike an appropriate balance.
Scottish Land & Estates did also, however, take the opportunity raise some initial concerns about the illustrative budget. Scottish Land & Estates thinks that there could be scope for enhancing the forestry budget rather than simply maintaining it and has concerns that Scottish Government is proposing to cease funding for access related activity in the next SRDP.