The Scottish Government’s decision to delay moving away from a Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)-style of support after Brexit will leave farmers vulnerable to big changes in the late 2020s, according to an industry expert.
Jeremy Moody, adviser at the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV), made the remarks at a National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) conference in Durham on February 13.
In June last year, Rural Affairs Secretary Fergus Ewing unveiled the Scottish Government’s post-Brexit proposals after industry bodies called for policy details to be published.
Under the plans, Scottish farmers and crofters will continue to receive direct payments until at least 2024, while the system is made ‘more understandable and flexible’.
But Mr Moody suggested delaying any significant reforms would mean farmers face a double-whammy of changes to support and trading arrangements over the next decade.
“Scotland is trying to cling on to a better yesterday, push the future off till after 2024, and hope possibly they can have a separate referendum on independence by then,” he said.
“I think they are going to be driven into faster changes because of the issues of funding their Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) and that money may well come out of BPS in the arable and better livestock areas in Scotland.
“There will also be some money taken out for further experimentation, but broadly, there is stasis, and that risks Scotland in the second half of the 2020s being less fit to handle support and trade changes at much the same time.”
Mr Moody’s comments come shortly after industry bodies NFU Scotland and Scottish Land and Estates issued a plea for the Scottish Government to ‘move on’ with developing a post-Brexit agricultural policy.