Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy as part of Brexit presents a positive opportunity to revitalise Scottish farming, Scottish Land & Estates said today (Wednesday January 23).

The rural business organisation made the comments within its response to the Scottish Affairs Committee’s consultation, the Future of Scottish Agriculture post-Brexit.

The organisation said the priorities for any future agricultural support must focus on:

  • Increasing resilience
  • Long term and sustainable approach to land management
  • Embracing innovation
  • Achieving climate change and emission targets
  • Delivering public goods

David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Brexit presents challenges and opportunities for Scottish land management and, in particular, our vital agricultural sector.

"Our departure from the Common Agricultural Policy has its difficulties but it presents a unique chance to revitalise how we support land management and what we must deliver to the public in return for that funding.

“We need to be bold and innovative in our approach – doing things as they have always been done, will no longer work.

"Farming needs to be supported where it is unprofitable but provides significant public good. Yet, on the reverse, we need to curtail public subsidies where there are substandard farming practices still being undertaken.”

SLE’s response calls for steps to break down the barriers that exist between farming, forestry, conservation and moorland management which are all interdependent. In future, farmers and land managers must be prepared to demonstrate the social, economic and environmental benefits that they can provide.

]David added: “To deliver real transformation, we need a long-term plan for what our land should deliver and then adopt an evidence-based approach to achieve that. We need to grasp the nettle now and deliver the support to foster a flexible and dynamic rural economy for the next 25 years and beyond.”

Sarah-Jane Laing, Executive Director at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “We need to take steps to equip the sector for the 21st Century and in particular, greater availability of specialist help to allow increased knowledge transfer. We have bodies such as the Farming Advisory Service and if such services were to be widened and enhanced with more general and technical expertise available to farmers, we could see a transformation in productivity, sustainability and innovation.

“It’s important that the current and next generation know what is happening at the cutting edge of modern farming. If this can be achieved, it is also likely to lead to a step change in outlook with more resilient practices being embraced that can serve the sector well.”