Agriculture Transformation Fund of £5 million welcome as farming strives to reduce emissions

Press Release

Capital grant funding to aid Scottish farming’s low-carbon future has been welcomed by Scottish Land & Estates.

Announced by the Scottish Government today, the whole of the current year’s Agriculture Transformation Fund of £5million will be made available for farm businesses, including agricultural contractors, to invest in capital items to improve slurry management (including covers) in order to reduce emissions and impacts on water quality.

An agricultural modernisation fund of this type was first proposed by the Climate Emergency Response Group (CERG) in 2019, where Scottish Land & Estates represents the land-based sector.

Paul Richardson, Policy Adviser (Agriculture & Climate Change) at Scottish Land & Estates, said:

“Farmers and land managers are always striving to evolve their businesses to become more efficient and to reduce emissions. However, cashflow and high capital costs can be a significant barrier to change so transition funding is vital.

“We welcome the Agriculture Transformation Fund announcement as an important step forward in helping the industry contribute towards a more sustainable future. Such a fund was one of the key recommendations Scottish Land & Estates pushed for as part of the Climate Emergency Response Group as we know the positive impact that measures such as effective slurry management can have on our environment.

“It is important that businesses look at the detail of the scheme and leave themselves sufficient time to apply, especially as we move forward into the busy Spring period. We expect there will be some conditionality when claiming for the capital items, and it is likely that businesses will have to complete a carbon audit and have a nutrient management plan in place.”

SLE also welcomed the insight provided by Rural Affairs and Islands Cabinet Secretary Mairi Gougeon on the National Test Programme to allow more farm businesses to carry out carbon audits and soil sampling, but added that concrete detail on this and the replacement for the Common Agricultural Policy was urgently needed by the sector.

Paul added: “Carbon audits and soil sampling will be vital to Scottish farming improving its environmental credentials and understanding how best to utilise cutting edge techniques whilst maintaining food production. We’re pleased that the Cabinet Secretary has provided an insight on the planned National Test Programme, but the scheme is something we need to start implementing as soon as possible.

“At a time when farmers and land managers need to plan and invest for the long-term, we want to see a quicker pace of change so that we fully understand what we are transitioning towards. We remain concerned about the lack of visible progress on the development of a replacement for the Common Agricultural Policy. We would also urge a greater level of engagement by the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB) with industry stakeholders to ensure the experience and views of everyone within the sector are properly represented as recommendations for the future are formulated.”