The Scottish Conservatives have today published “A New Approach to Scottish Farming” which sets out the principles of their future farming policy for Scotland.
The document forms the basis of the Scottish Conservative debate on future agriculture policy in the Scottish Parliament today.
A Scottish Conservative approach to Scottish farming will focus on productivity, regional differentiation, environmental protection, research, education and securing the future of farming careers.
The Scottish Conservatives will highlight the opportunity of designing and implementing a new support system that is much better suited to the needs of Scottish agriculture than the outdated Common Agricultural Policy.
The rest of the UK remains the biggest market for Scottish farm produce; it is crucial that any new system does not create any friction with this internal market.
This approach recognises the unique landscapes and circumstances faced by 85 percent of Scottish agriculture and would maintain funding to farmers facing remoteness, harsh climate, and poor soil quality.
The Scottish Conservative focus will provide support to farmers providing key environmental outcomes, combining financial stability with environmental measures.
The introduction of measures to help new entrant farmers, more flexible working and managing exits from farming would help to secure the future farming workforce.
Our education system must also adapt to support a new generation of land managers through Rural Skills Level 4 and increased vocational training. STEM subjects must be a priority in order to allow farmers to harness technology, and implement future focused environmental strategies.
Scottish Conservative rural economy and connectivity shadow secretary Donald Cameron said;
“The Common Agricultural Policy is not fit for purpose and we have an opportunity to design and implement a system far more responsive to the needs of Scotland’s farmers.
“The SNP continue to let farmers and crofters down, by being far more preoccupied with promoting independence than working with Scottish agriculture to grasp this opportunity; as a result farmers face uncertainty and anxiety.
“Our focus is on practical, simple support that farmers can access easily and quickly.
“The Scottish Conservatives want government to support environmental measures, new technologies, new entrants to farmers, and flexibility for those in farming as well as those who wish to exit with dignity.
“Scotland’s unique landscape poses challenges and opportunities which we will embrace and continue with the same levels of funding.
“Above all, Scotland’s farmers deserve an ambitious programme of support and encouragement that will ensure our rural communities capitalise on the opportunity we now have.
“In contrast, the SNP seems content to wage constitutional warfare rather than address the serious, practical issues facing farmers today.”