Exceptional rainfall and extreme tidal surges have been responsible for significant flooding of farmland and catastrophic breaches of flood defences in several parts of Scotland this year.
The NFU met with Scottish Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse in the Scottish Parliament to discuss recommendations to give greater recognition to the value of prime agricultural land.
Speaking from Holyrood, NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said: “Clearly climate change is driving ever more extreme weather events that puts our ability to produce food at risk. In these circumstances, society must be prepared to support farmers in protecting their future capability to produce with appropriate systems and defences.
“For decades, successive legislation has allowed competent authorities to pay scant attention to agricultural land when managing watercourses, building flood defences, and making planning decisions. This fostered a perception that agricultural land was a low priority for flood protection, and was instead sacrificed to protect urban areas.
“Although the Flood Risk Management Act (FRMA) five years ago removed the distinction between agricultural and non-agricultural land, it created additional complexity and we firmly believe that prevention of flooding on agricultural land continues to be of lesser concern to competent authorities.
“In particular, the eight per cent of Scotland classed as “prime agricultural land” is not being afforded the protection it warrants given its importance to overall food production and rural economic output.
“Given the likelihood of our climate continuing to change, we need to develop regulations that are more appropriate and more pragmatic as a matter of urgency. We think the recommendations we discussed today can go a long way to delivering that.”