The SAC report is positive boost for farmers

Press Release

Commenting on the publication of the Scottish Affairs Committee report on the Future of Scottish Agriculture post-Brexit, David Johnstone, Chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, which represents farmers and other rural landowners said:

“The SAC report is the positive boost needed at an anxious time of uncertainty for Scottish Farmers and reflects many of the points raised by Scottish Land & Estates and others involved in Scottish agriculture. 

“We remain resolute that funding for farmers must be fairly allocated, and the previous mechanism was beyond unfair: farmers in different parts of the UK are receiving vastly different payment rates for doing essentially the same job.

“We need recognition of Scotland’s lower than average payment rate and for the £160 million of convergence funding to be repatriated to Scotland for its farmers and crofters. We hope that the independent review into the intra-UK allocation of domestic farm support by Lord Bew will reflect this position. His report is due to be published imminently.

“We particularly welcome the report’s sensible recommendations of setting budgets on a seven-year basis with a review mid-way and the ability for the Scottish Government to have at least the same flexibility as it does under the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). We want to see both the UK and Scottish Governments publish timetables for agriculture legislation as well as statements on clarity of future payments including the purpose of the fund, how it will be operated, which existing EU funds it will replace and how much money will be available for rural development projects. 

“One thing in the report we would question is the benefit of increasing the Less Favoured Area categories. We agree with the Committee that the unique nature of Scotland’s farming conditions and practices needs to be recognised and supported. Moving to a system which recognises the public goods provided by these areas would be, in our view, a better option for the businesses, communities and society in general.

“The fragility of Scottish agriculture isn’t solely down to Brexit and there are many issues which need to be addressed immediately such as the supply chain, demographics and infrastructure. There are also the challenges of delivering a thriving tenanted farming sector and making progress on climate change targets.  The Prime Minister’s proposal of a points-based immigration system will not solve the seasonal work issue but would help with the lack of vets and other skilled permanent workers in the agriculture and farming sectors. Seasonal workers need a scheme of some sorts to attract them from all over the world - not just the EU. 

“It is time for action rather than platitudes. We need the Scottish and UK Governments to show their commitment to Scottish farmers, land managers and rural communities by implementing the recommendations in the SAC report as soon as possible.”