NFU Scotland (NFUS) has criticised the Scottish Government for gold-plating EU greening rules on management of fallow land in Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs), saying Scottish growers have been put at a competitive disadvantage compared to their English counterparts.
In England, farmers have been able to use mechanical methods to control weeds and conduct drainage work during the fallow period for the past two years, but Scottish growers have been prevented from doing so because of Holyrood’s additional rules.
The union claims these measures would have been ‘hugely beneficial’ to Scottish growers due to flooding issues and significant weed problems.
NFUS president Allan Bowie said: “The union remains resolutely committed to seeking changes within current greening requirements that address both Scottish Government gold-plating and the simplification agenda in Brussels.
“Despite a huge lobbying effort from officeholders, staff and members, securing changes to Scotland’s interpretation of greening rules has been a long, hard slog.
“We have written to Fergus Ewing and shown him first hand on farm how removal of gold-plating would benefit Scottish growers.”
A recent letter from the European Commission to NFUS confirmed EU scheme rules allow for the use of mechanical methods to control weeds and conduct drainage work in EFAs.
Mr Bowie added: “Europe’s approach to greening is changing and Scotland must come into line.”