Time to discuss agri-environment future measures is right now

Want to read more?

At the start of the pandemic in March we took the decision to make online access to our news free of charge by taking down our paywall. At a time where accurate information about Covid-19 was vital to our community, this was the right decision – even though it meant a drop in our income. In order to help safeguard the future of our journalism, the time has now come to reinstate our paywall, However, rest assured that access to all Covid related news will still remain free.

To access all other news will require a subscription, as it did pre-pandemic. The good news is that for the whole of December we will be running a special discounted offer to get 3 months access for the price of one month. Thank you for supporting us during this incredibly challenging time.

We value our content and access to our full site is only available with a  subscription. Your subscription entitles you to 7-day-a-week access to our website, plus a full digital copy of that week’s paper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device.  In addition, your subscription includes access to digital archive copies from 2006 onwards.

Just want to read one issue? No problem you can subscribe for just one week (or longer if you wish).

Already a subscriber?


Subscribe Now

Future agri-environment measures must enable farmers and crofters to play their key role in managing a significant majority of Scotland’s environmental interests, writes Environment and Land Use committee chairman, Angus MacFadyen, a hill farmer from near Oban.

Earlier this year, Scottish Government Ministers decided there would not be a normal AECS application round in 2020. Instead, one-year extensions would be available for those whose AECS contracts expire in 2020 to ensure continued support for vital land management required to protect biodiversity and tackle climate change.

While this may be pragmatic due to concerns about issuing a five-year contract without certainty of budgets beyond 2020, it is unacceptable that there is no defined commitment for farmers and crofters to undertake biodiversity measures, water quality improvements, flooding mitigation, organic conversion, public access provision, and the like.

AECS is intended to promote land management practices which protect and enhance Scotland’s natural heritage, improve water quality, manage flood risk and mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as improving public access and preserving historic sites. The funding available should enable farmers and crofters to play their key role in managing a significant majority of Scotland’s environmental interests – including valued species and habitats.

It is vital that piloting in the 2021 to 2024 period fully develop a bottom-up approach to build payments around desired outcomes rather than out-dated calculations of income foregone or additional costs. Prescriptive measures, compliance complexity and static payment calculations fail to foster participation or desired outcomes.

A major challenge is to ensure that there is no gap in support for agri-environment activity and that farmers and crofters have the confidence in future schemes to continue to come forward with applications.