Capital grant funding worth £5million to help the low-carbon future of Scottish farming has been welcomed by industry groups.
Announced by the Scottish Government, the entirety of the current year’s Farming Transformation Fund of £5m will be made available to farming businesses to become more sustainable .
The fund will allow them to invest in capital assets to improve manure management – including covers – to reduce emissions and water quality impacts.
Such an agricultural modernization fund was first proposed by the Climate Emergency Response Group (CERG) in 2019.
Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) welcomed the funding as cash flow and high investment costs are a ‘significant barrier to change’.
Paul Richardson, Rural Business Group Policy Advisor, said: “We welcome the announcement of the Agriculture Transformation Fund as an important step in helping the industry contribute to a more sustainable future.
“Such a fund was one of the key recommendations that Scottish Land & Estates lobbied for as part of the Climate Emergency Response Group, as we know the positive impact that measures such as effective manure management can have on our environment.”
He added: “It is important that companies review the details of the program and allow themselves ample time to apply, especially as we move into the busy spring period.
“We expect there will be some conditionality when claiming capital assets, and it’s likely that companies will need to carry out a carbon audit and have a nutrient management plan in place.”
SLE also welcomed the information provided by the Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs Secretary, Mairi Gougeon, on the national testing scheme, to enable more farming businesses to carry out carbon audits and soil sampling.
However, the group added that concrete details on this and the replacement of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were “urgent” for the sector.
Mr Richardson said: “Carbon audits and soil sampling will be essential for Scottish agriculture to improve its environmental credentials and understand how best to use state-of-the-art techniques while maintaining food production.
“We are delighted that the Cabinet Secretary has provided an overview of the planned national testing program but the program is something we need to start implementing as soon as possible.”