Future Agricultural Support in Scotland as at June 2023
The Scottish Government have provided some further clarification on the future agricultural policy we are expecting to see from 2025, as well as clarification on the future of other support schemes.
While Mairi Gougeon has promised there will be no cliff edges as businesses transition into the new support mechanisms, further detail outlining how some of the proposed measures and standards will be implemented remains outstanding. As anticipated, we are beginning to see further clarity on which direction agricultural support is going, with focus on the environment and climate change, and a move to more regenerative farming methods.
Basic Payment Scheme and beyond
New conditions for receiving Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) support will be introduced from 2025, before a new support mechanism replaces the existing scheme in 2026. We understand that essential standards will have to be met in order to receive BPS in 2025. These essential standards are focused on farming activity; climate response; biodiversity gain; whilst also safeguarding animal health and welfare standards and workers’ rights.
In 2025 farming businesses will need to start the transition to the new support scheme which is considered as a ‘stepping stone’ to 2026 and beyond, with the compliance requirements for 2025 BPS linking to Tier 1 for the new support framework. In practice, these conditions will include the following, but may have other items added.
the maintenance of existing cross compliance requirements as a minimum for future support;
the introduction of new protections for Peatlands and Wetlands as a new condition on basic payments;
the foundations of a Whole Farm Plan, including soil testing, animal health and welfare declaration, carbon audits, biodiversity audits and supported business planning;
the introduction of new conditions to the Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme linked to calving intervals to encourage livestock keepers to reduce the emissions intensity of their cattle production systems.
2026 support is likely to be structured on a tier mechanism, with Basic Support and Enhanced Support available as outlined below.
Tier 1: Base – This will be the closest thing to a direct payment, guaranteed to all farmers and crofters who meet essential standards in farming activity; climate response; biodiversity gain; whilst safeguarding animal health and welfare standards and workers’ rights, as well as existing cross-compliance conditions
Tier 2: Enhanced – This tier will build on the standards established in Tier 1. It will focus on measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate change, and protect, restore and improve nature. These measures will also incentivise more sustainable and regenerative farming practices, with focuses on farming for a better climate and nature restoration.
Tier 3: Elective – This tier will be ‘optional’ and likely to be more specific to targeting a certain species or habitat, and will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to climate change, and protecting, restoring and improving nature.
Tier 4: Complementary – Funding in Tiers 1-3 will be complemented by providing applicants with access to support and advice, as well as continuous professional development (CPD) to help achieve the aims of the future support model.
The Regions model will remain, but will be reviewed prior to 2027 to ensure it is fit for purpose within the new scheme guidelines.
Greening (for arable/other cropping)
Greening will continue into 2025 and from 2026 will remain, but may alter to better integrate into the new tier system.
Voluntary Coupled Support
Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme (SSBSS) and Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme (SUSSS)
Both of these schemes will continue in 2025 and 2026, with consideration still being given to how Voluntary Coupled Support will be delivered in 2027
New conditions will be introduced to SSBSS in 2025 linked to calving interval performance.
Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS)
This scheme is expected to continue to 2026 but changes may be introduced from 2025 to support the transition towards a more economically and environmentally sustainable model. Consideration is still being given to how this type of support will be delivered from 2027.
Agri Environment and Climate Scheme (AECS)
This scheme is expected to continue to 2026 to deliver elements of Tiers 3 and 4 until new Elective and Complementary Support is implemented from 2027. Some the options currently available through AECS are being considered for inclusion in Tier 2 so that more people can implement them.
Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS)
This Scheme is expected to evolve and continue to deliver elements of Tier 3 and 4 until new support is implemented from 2027. Some of the options available under this scheme are being considered for inclusion as eligible measures/activities in Tier 2 so that more people can implement them.
Planning for the future
Preparing for Sustainable Farming
This new grant scheme is already open for applications for helping businesses prepare for changes, with support for conducting carbon audits and soil sampling, support for animal health and welfare activities and access to herd data for Suckler beef producers through MyHerdStat.
Put simply, the scheme allows businesses to claim £500 for an eligible carbon audit, up to £600 per 100Ha of Region 1 land for soil sampling and £250 as a development payment alongside the first soil sampling payment for farmers and crofters to spend time on things that will widen their understanding of Nutrient Management Planning. In addition, there is funding available for businesses to select up to two (per year) animal health and welfare interventions, which include bull fertility, calf respiratory disease, liver fluke (sheep or cattle), roundworm (sheep or cattle), sheep scab, sheep iceberg diseases, and sheep lameness.
Applications are already open for the carbon audit and soil sampling, with funding for the animal health and welfare interventions expected to be available shortly.
Whole Farm Plans will be introduced from 2025 as a tool to help farmers and crofters integrate food, climate and biodiversity outcomes on their holdings and inform where they can seek support from the future support framework. The intention of the Whole Farm Plan is to help businesses become more environmentally and economically resilient and sustainable, with productivity baselines for soil testing, an animal health and welfare declaration, carbon audits, biodiversity audits and support for business planning.
To discuss any of this further and what it might mean for your business, please contact a member of the Bell Ingram Rural Land Management team.
Senior Associate, MRICS FAAV
Rural Land Management
Tel: 01307 462 516
About: Catherine is a highly qualified RICS Chartered Surveyor and Registered Valuer working across Perthshire and Angus advising on all aspects of rural estate management, farm management, residential property management and lettings. She joined Bell Ingram in 2014 working in the Perth office before moving to the Forfar office in 2019. As a farmer’s daughter from Yorkshire and now living on a farm in Angus, along with a degree in rural tourism management, Catherine can offer assistance on a variety or rural matters. Interests: Lettings, Rural Land Management, Tourism