The publication of the official government figures for Scotland's
cereal production have highlighted the impact that both production
costs and subsidy reform are having on farmers across the country,
according to NFU Scotland. The figures confirm that the amount
of land in Scotland under cereal production is at a 30-year low,
with many farmers looking at different forms of production.
NFUS believes that this is a clear sign that the introduction
of the new Single Farm Payment, which provides greater flexibility
for farmers to alter production, is having an impact. Cereal farmers
have faced significant increases in costs over the last few years,
particular on fuel, without a corresponding increase in the prices.
This has left many questioning just how much land they commit to
producing cereals in future.
NFUS Vice President David Mitchell said:
"There has been no dramatic drop in cereal production this
year, but the five per cent drop is a continuation of the reduction
in our cereal area. We are now at the lowest level since the early
1970s. There is clear evidence that land previously used for cereals
is being put into grass, as some farmers move the emphasis of their
business towards livestock production.
"The introduction of the new farm support regime will hasten
this decline unless the market responds to the increased costs
facing farmers. The new subsidy system provides more options to
our members, and it appears they are already taking those up. That
must send a clear message to buyers that they must deliver sustainable
prices if they want to secure local supply.
"Tellingly, both the area of land under winter crops and
spring crops have dropped this year. Normally, a drop in one is
compensated by a rise in the other. Many farmers will now be leaving
less productive land alone because the income on it does not justify
the production costs."
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