Rural Affairs Secretary Addresses Future Agricultural Support At Royal Highland Show

New conditions for farming support payments will be introduced from 2025, to help more of Scotland’s farmers and crofters cut emissions and help tackle climate change.

The criteria will also support farmers and crofters to meet more of our food needs sustainably, and farm and croft while working to protect nature.

From 2025 farmers and crofters will be required to adopt the following practices to qualify for the payment:

  • foundations of a ‘Whole Farm Plan’ which will include soil testing, animal health and welfare declaration, carbon audits, biodiversity audits and supported business planning
  • protections for peatlands and wetlands to help farmers restore these vital habitats to sequester more carbon
  • meet new conditions to the Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme to help cut emissions intensity and make beef production more efficient

Speaking ahead of her address to farmers and crofters at the Quality Meat Scotland Breakfast event at the Royal Highland Show, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:

“As we take urgent action to tackle the climate emergency, I am determined to ensure that high quality food production is maintained. Unlike in England, there will be no cliff edges in support – I am committed to maintaining direct payments and supporting our nation’s producers through a just transition.
“An updated version of the route map has been published today. It contains much more information on what will change from 2025.  It makes clear that our transition will be a just one – some things won’t change before a new framework for support is implemented beyond 2026.
“These changes will only work if as many farmers and crofters as possible take part. So alongside the route map, from today we are embarking on an engagement programme for change.
“There are leaflets, videos and case studies available – starting here at the Royal Highland Show – to explain the changes ahead and the support available to help farmers and crofters get ready.”
NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy, speaking from the Highland Show after today’s announcement (22 June) said: “We welcome the commitment laid out in the Agricultural Route Map to retain Voluntary Coupled Support till at least 2026 and the announcement by the Cabinet Secretary today. This gives the industry some highly anticipated clarity on the direction of travel. However, all farmers and crofters remain keen to understand the finer detail of how this conditionality will work in practice.
“Coupled support is crucial to our iconic beef sector, which contributes an estimated £849 million to Scottish agriculture’s output and will be a central plank for the new strategy for Scotland’s Food and Drink, being launched tomorrow (Friday 23 June). The red meat sector continues to face ongoing uncertainty and vulnerability despite the recent upturn in prices.
“Conditionality measures for future support, such as calving intervals, have been discussed by the industry for some time as a way of improving production-based efficiency and the recommendations of the Farmer-led Group into suckler beef clearly identified the benefits of improving herd management, becoming more efficient and reducing emissions as meriting support. 
“We look forward to working with Scottish Government to develop these conditionality measures that help improve the sustainability of our beef herd.


Agricultural Reform Route Map (ruralpayments.org)

The QMS Breakfast marks the first of the Rural Affairs Secretary’s two-day programme of engagements at the Royal Highland Show. Amongst other events and meetings, she will also be attending:

  • The ‘Golden Shears’ launch event
  • Supporting Women in Agriculture breakfast event
  • A roundtable with young farmers
  • The Rare Breed Survival Trust Scotland Food & Farming Sustainability Awards

Supporting you where you are

Scottish Government officials will be visiting agricultural shows, marts and area offices across Scotland, to share information and answer questions about agricultural reform in Scotland. Find us at:

Royal Highland Show 22-25 June Dingwall Market 31 August
Haddington Show 1 July Thainstone cattle 1 September
Sutherland Show 22 July Stornoway 5 September
Border union 28 July Portree 2 October
Turriff Show 30 July Craig Wilson Ayr 3 October
Black Isle Show 2 August Wallet Marts, Castle Douglas 7 October
Keith Show 5 August Oban (Highland Cow sale) 9 October
Lanark auction mart 11 August Oban Market 10 October
Mid Argyll 12 August Lanark Market 19 October
Caithness sale Sheep 14 August Stirling UA 23 October
Lairg sheep sale 15 August Craig Wilson Ayr 14 November

Additional in person and online events will be added to the programme.

For more information and full guidance on support available for conducting carbon audits and other Preparing for Sustainable Farming support, visit www.ruralpayments.org

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