NFU Scotland has called on the Scottish government to ensure that 80% of future agriculture funding is put aside for direct support for farmers.
The union said it had met with the Treasury, Scotland Office and the main political parties at Westminster to ensure the continuity of Scotland’s agricultural funding from the UK government beyond 2024.
With £620m of Scottish farm support coming from Westminster, the viability of the sector is dependent on securing an overall support package available for spend within the new four-tiered agricultural support framework.
However, a critical issue is how that funding is then allocated by Scottish government and its proposed support framework from 2025 onwards to provide conditional payments under 4 tiers: Base, Enhanced, Elective, and Complementary.
Direct support for Scotland’s farmers is delivered primarily through the BPS, Greening, Voluntary Coupled Support for beef calves and upland sheep and the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme.
It adds up to around £550 million per year, but with no certainty beyond 2024.
With the total figure for Scottish government’s Agriculture and Rural Economy (ARE) spending equivalent to about £680 million, it means some 80% is paid out as direct support.
NFU Scotland has written to Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Mairi Gougeon calling for 80% of the future support package to continue be dedicated as direct support to Tiers 1 and 2.
The union said that would "underpin and incentivise" agricultural activity and management changes to "drive productivity while building resilience and environmental benefits".
NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy said: “Maintaining direct support funding will protect £3bn of expenditure in the wider rural economy and more than £3.5bn of output as we are the first link in the supply chain of Scotland’s iconic food and drinks sector.
"Guaranteeing that existing direct support will be delivered as both conditional area-based and action-based payments, in Tiers 1 and 2 respectively, will ensure farmers tackle the triple challenge of food, climate and biodiversity head on.”
He added: "Allocating at least 80% of Scotland’s total agricultural budget as direct support payments via Tiers 1 and 2 of the proposed agricultural support framework for Scotland will deliver this.”