First Minister’s funding announcement ‘a small step but not enough to deliver sustainable agriculture’

First Minister Humza Yousaf announced details today of how farm funding will be distributed under the Scottish government’s new system, revealing an approach that campaigners say won’t do enough to help farmers and crofters to produce food sustainably.

The First Minister said at the National Farmers Union of Scotland conference today that his government will distribute at least 70% of its farm funding across the first two ‘tiers’ of the new system. In effect this means the new system is likely to direct only a little more of the farming budget to helping farmers and crofters restore nature and tackle climate change than the current system does.

Pete Ritchie, convenor of Scottish Environment LINK’s Food and Farming Group, reacted to the First Minister’s announcement: 

“Scotland’s farmers and crofters are vital to our future. As well as producing food, they have a key role to play in helping to restore nature and tackle climate change. If we’re to meet these challenges, we need to see strong leadership from the Scottish Government. Today’s announcement is a small step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

“The Scottish Government’s own analysis shows that the way we currently support farmers is unfair, and doesn’t help those who want to tackle climate change or protect nature.[1] The Scottish Government had promised to change this system, and today’s announcement falls short of the action required. Government must be bolder in the face of the nature and climate emergency and commit to spending more over time on helping farmers farm sustainably, and less on per hectare direct payments.

“Putting more of the budget into environmental measures and into support for the sector like innovation, advice, and co-operation is the best way to ensure a resilient and sustainable farming sector. 

“A business as usual approach will not put farming on the path to sustainability. It will leave those farmers and crofters who are working in ways that help nature and the climate without enough support, and it risks leaving our farming sector out of step with the growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly food.

“With the right government support in place, Scottish farming can put food on our tables while restoring nature and tackling climate change. Today’s decision moves us just a little closer to that goal, but it’s not enough to allow the Scottish Government achieve its own ambition to deliver sustainable agriculture.”

[1] Annex A. Published Research into the Effectiveness of the CAP – Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill: supporting evidence and analysis – (