The majority of Scottish farmers see Brexit as a risk rather than an opportunity for their businesses, according to a survey undertaken for the Scottish Government.
The survey by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the James Hutton Institute of nearly 2,500 farmers, crofters and smallholders showed just 26% were positive about the post-withdrawal landscape.
Around 37% of respondents stated negative views towards the outcome for post-Brexit Scottish farming, and the remaining 37% stated more neutral views but also had concerns about future planning for their businesses.
The survey found farmers who had higher levels of education were more likely to be actively preparing for Brexit compared to others, and farms in Less Favoured Areas and in the Highlands and Islands were less positive than those elsewhere.
Professor Andrew Barnes from SRUC said: “What this work shows is the large amount of stasis in the industry driven by the uncertainties around Brexit and wider trading conditions.
“Ultimately, the concern is that this leads to a decline in investment and has consequent impacts on productivity and growth in the future.
“Making a business more resilient to change, as we’ve seen in the recent Covid-19 outbreak, is essential to ensuring sustainability for our own agricultural industry.”
Dr Lee-Ann Sutherland, a research leader at the James Hutton Institute, said: “It can take years to shift a farm’s trajectory.
“Brexit makes it difficult for farmers to plan, which impedes their ability to move their farms forward.”
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said he shared the researchers’ concerns and warned of a “double threat”.
“Failing to request an extension to the Brexit transition period at this time is particularly reckless,” he said.