Farming: Support payments reach targets says Mairi Gourgeon

More than 99 per cent of Scotland’s Basic Payment Scheme, Greening and Young Farmer Payments for the 2021 claim year have been made, exceeding the statutory target, Scot Gov announced yesterday.

Minister Mairi Gougeon
Minister Mairi Gougeon

Commenting on the timely delivery of farm support, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said that the global pandemic and the impact of the illegal invasion of the Ukraine had highlighted the importance of food chains and food security:

“These events have also demonstrated how hard the agriculture sector works to put high-quality, nutritious food on our plates.”

Payments totalling more than £417 million have been made to more than 17, 484 businesses, said Gougeon: “In addition, £40 million has been issued to almost 6,500 businesses through the Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme, while a further £7 million has been issued through the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme.

She said that Including payments to land based rural development schemes of £100.4 million, £564.7 million had been paid out in total.

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“These payments provide support to our crofters and farmers, as well as the rural economy as a whole.”

A spokesperson said that the advance payments for this year’s claims would, provided clearance was given by the Scottish Parliament, commence on the week beginning September 19, 2022.

*Meanwhile, a new report published yesterday called for a total re-think on farm support measures – with a focus on improving soil health, biodiversity and climate mitigation measures which would help ensure viable UK food production and bolster necessary adaptation to a warming climate.

The document, 'Rethink Food: The Need for Change' produced by the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) argues that fragilities in the food system exposed by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have long been present.

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It claims that the land’s overall productive capacity will reduce due to climate change, increasing supply and demand pressure, and making on-farm adaptation through nature-friendly systems a priority.

The report endorses food system change across seven areas, including prioritising the right outputs in the right areas, harnessing opportunities for producing a wider diversity of foods and improving the link-up between strategies for food, agriculture, trade and land use.

“Right now, we are experiencing the knock-on implications of decisions about land use following the Second World War, which supported farming practices that made little room for environmental concern, to the detriment of biodiversity, which has been in steep and unrelenting decline,” said the organisation’s UK chair, Martin Lines.

He said that the current food system was powered by fossil fuels and dominated by calorie-rich, nutrient-poor produce:

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“We have reached a fork in the road where we must question what we currently produce, how we produce it and if more of the same is the answer.”

He said that the report highlighted the fact that there must be a bold reimagining of how healthy food farmed in nature-friendly systems could reach more tables.

“Without extensive and widespread adoption of nature-friendly agriculture, where diversity spans the landscapes of our farms, we risk a future with greater instability,” said Lines,”Producing bountiful nutritious food without a biodiverse and fertile natural environment will be impossible.”

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