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Scottish farmers' confidence plummets as Brexit draws near, survey reveals

Only a quarter of Scotland’s farmers are optimistic about their businesses in a post-Brexit landscape.

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Scottish farmers' confidence plummets as Brexit draws near, survey reveals

The somewhat alarming statistic comes courtesy of a survey contacted on behalf of Scottish Government by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the James Hutton Institute.

 

The remaining three quarters of the 2500 farmers and crofters surveyed had either a sceptical or pessimistic view of the industry post-Brexit.

 

Importantly, the questions in the survey did not relate to the farmer’s or crofter’s original view as to whether or not Brexit was a good idea, but to how they rated the chances of being able to adapt to the new circumstances.


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The responses showed those farming in Less Favoured Area regions, and the Highland and Islands, were more likely to hold negative views towards Brexit than those outside these areas.

 

The most positive views came from those farming in the south and east but even in these areas there was little sign of active preparation for life after Brexit.

 

Professor Andrew Barnes from SRUC, who conducted the research, said: “What this work shows is the large amount of stasis in the industry driven by the uncertainties around Brexit and wider trading conditions.

 

“Ultimately, the concern is that this leads to a decline in investment and has consequent impacts on productivity and growth in the future. Making a business more resilient to change, as we have seen in the recent Covid-19 outbreak, is essential to ensuring sustainability.”

 

Volatile

 

Chloe McCulloch, principal consultant at SAC Consulting, said: “Farming has always been a volatile business and farmers are resourceful people.

 

“However, with Brexit it is possible that the magnitude of the shock heading our way will mean that for many businesses the status quo is not sustainable, and actually seeing that written down is really tough.

 

“We also see many farmers waiting for things to become clearer before starting to plan, but uncertainty is likely to become the new normal as we enter potentially decades of trade negotiations, and there is not going to be a better time to start planning."

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