NFUS To Work With Government On Green Recovery

NFU Scotland has welcomed funding commitments for 2021 made in today’s Scottish Budget in the face of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, its impact on the economy and the challenging post-EU transition period.  

While more detail will emerge in coming days, key announcements for the agricultural sector centred on support for Less Favoured Areas, the Agricultural Transformation Fund and the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme in 2021. However, longer term commitments to funding beyond the current year will continue to be sought by NFUS.

Under current and foreseeable market circumstances, these funding streams are critical to ensuring the sector continues to underpin Scotland’s high-quality food and drinks sectors, that are so important to the Scottish economy and post-Covid recovery, whilst also enabling farmers and crofters to deliver on environment and climate change ambitions, recently detailed in the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan.  Headline figures for 2021 in the announcement are the following:

  • Less Favoured Areas Support reinstated to its 2018 level of £65 million.
  • £40m Agriculture Transformation Fund
  • £34.2 for AECS
  • Uplift in spending for Scotland Food and Drink Industry Support, Local authorities, Crofting Commission, Animal Health
  • Support for tree planting, peatland restoration and connectivity
President Andrew McCornick who farms in Dumfries and Galloway said: “We fully recognise the need for a budget that recognises the exceptional circumstances the nation finds itself in and notes the various funding streams – both locally and nationally – that will underpin the nation’s economic recovery.
“For agriculture, in our pre-Budget briefing to Scottish Government, we called on it to play its part in funding existing schemes to provide stability and continuity.  That investment now will deliver for a green recovery in the rural economy, the national economy, jobs, the environment, biodiversity, climate change and our national wellbeing post-Covid.
“Confirmation that the budget line for the lifeline LFASS scheme is to be reinstated to its 2018 level of £65 million is a win for NFUS lobbying and will be welcomed many farmers and crofters farming across Scotland.
“Having welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment of £40 million new money in the 2020-21 Budget for the Agricultural Transformation Programme, NFUS has consistently queried the apparent underspend with just over half the budget being allocated to the Sustainable Agriculture Capital Grant Scheme (SACGS) and support for woodlands and forestry.  We welcome that this funding has been recommitted in the 2021-22 budget and, we will continue to work with the Scottish Government on how to best target this funding.
“Scottish Government also needs to identify what proportion of this budget will be allocated to the heavily subscribed SACGS. To secure a real step-change in the agricultural sector’s contribution to climate change targets, far greater ambition and financial support is needed, along with clear policy direction and investment to accelerate the transition to lower emissions farming.
“We knew AECS for 2021, which opened on Monday (25 January), would be a partial scheme.  That must now be backed by a long-term continuation of AECS, and a commitment to vastly expand the Scheme and make it accessible for all who wish to undertake these important agri-environment measures.
“And for our members who have diversified strands to their businesses, there was welcome news that the Strategic Business Fund will be increased and the Discretionary Fund for Local Authorities will be doubled.  Both these may be accessible to members who have lost income from a diversified business.” 

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