Farmers Reflect on Changes to their Sector

Farmers across Scotland will see significant changes to their sector over the next few years: the Covid pandemic, Brexit and always there – climate change – all have serious implications for agriculture. Farmers have reflected on how these issues are making them think differently in discussions with the team at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC)

Niall Campbell, regional manager for the North West of Scotland at the SAC and Rob Black, his Oban-based colleague, said that the combination of the global pandemic and leaving the EU has prompted people to think differently.

Rob Black said that the realisation that the Basic Payment System will end and big changes in farm support are inevitable has led landowners and managers to explore how to become more stable, efficient and competitive.

He said:

“Conversations have focused on changing things that people are unhappy with, for example agreements where the tenant feels that their rent doesn’t reflect the risk that they are bearing.

“One farm I work with recognised that they needed to increase the number of end markets and that selling direct was what they needed to do; now they are marketing butchered lamb in meat boxes, are direct selling ewe lambs for breeding and selling the remainder through the live ring. Having several market outlets builds the business’s resilience.”

“On other farms, it’s sensitive matters like succession planning which have been aired for the first time.

“I have huge respect for those who have seen the need and are doing something about it. It’s been really heartening to feel like our team has been there to help people talk through their options and develop a viable plan.”

The infographics by SAC Consulting record the 6,241 IACS forms completed by them for farmers during the 2020 claims period.

Niall Campbell added:

“For some businesses, the pandemic has almost completely passed them by, for others, the loss of diversified income from  tourism has been dramatic and it’s made the IACS claim even more important than usual.

“Support payments can equate to over 75% of the income of the farms and crofts in the north-west region, so it was essential that SAC Consulting responded to lockdown immediately to ensure that all of our consultants could run their IACS client meetings online and from their homes.

“Sixty-one days to process 6,241 claims was a huge undertaking, but we made it work and got all of the claims in on time. This emphasises the dedication and flexibility of our local staff and desire to assist our clients’ businesses.”

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