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Rural Affairs Secretary to address farmers’ union

Cabinet Secretary Mairi Gougeon (left) with NFU Scotland's President Martin Kennedy (right)

RURAL Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon has announced a new payment scheme for farmers and crofters to improve the health and welfare of sheep and cattle, ahead of an address to the National Farmers Union Scotland annual general meeting.

From summer 2023, livestock keepers will be able to claim a new £250 payment for specific interventions, such as vet screening of livestock for certain diseases, which will lead to improvements in the health and welfare of Scotland’s sheep and cattle.

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Research shows healthy livestock produce less emissions, require less veterinary treatment and fewer antibiotics. Sheep and cattle make up a significant amount of the greenhouse gas emissions contributed by agriculture in Scotland.

The new payment scheme is one of the first early reforms delivered by the Scottish Government to encourage a more sustainable and regenerative agriculture sector in Scotland. It follows the introduction of carbon audits and soil sampling last year and will pave the way for a post-Brexit future support framework for agriculture.

Speaking ahead of her address to the National Farmers Union Scotland on Friday 10 February, Ms Gougeon said:

“Scotland’s farmers are the backbone of our nation, producing much of the food and drink that ends up on our dinner tables. With Brexit, the pandemic and, now, rising inflation, this period has seen some of the most challenging times the sector has ever faced.

“Despite this our farmers and crofters remain resilient, and I am determined to support them over the next few years as we transition from the EU’s CAP Payment system to a support framework that realises our vision for Scotland to be a global leader in sustainable agriculture.

“The new animal health and welfare payment is one of the first steps in this process and will reward farmers who take an active role in improving the health and welfare of the animals they keep.

“I know there is still some uncertainty and apprehension in the sector about how the new payments system post-2025 will look and the journey to get there. That is why, in my speech later, I will be giving more detail on the route map for agricultural reform, more detail on the climate change mitigation measures we are considering and reassurance that the sector will have the notice that they need to effectively plan for future years ahead. I also give my personal assurance that farmers, crofters and their representatives will be involved as we progress on that journey, every step of the way.”

The Scottish Government has also today published the timetable for 2023 payments to the agricultural sector, to help businesses plan for the year ahead.

The Rural Affairs Secretary is also expected to announce in her speech the opening of the next round of the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF), which provides funding for projects in the agricultural sector that promote skills development and knowledge transfer. Since 2015 the fund has awarded £7.5 million to 52 projects across Scotland, including the prominent five year Monitor Farm Programme.

New applications seeking up to £200,000 worth of funding are welcomed from 10 February to 10 March 2023.

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