Young farmers wary of threat posed by Brexit

Members of the young farmers agri and rural affairs committee with their Brexit report
Members of the young farmers agri and rural affairs committee with their Brexit report

Almost 70% of Scottish young farmers voted to stay in Europe and would do so again if they got the opportunity.

The results of a survey by the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC) reveal that Brexit is seen as a threat by the next generation and has resulted in hesitation about investing in their businesses until the future is clearer.

Only 40% of respondents who are involved in farming felt confident enough to invest in the current climate and the majority of respondents (52%) are holding off to see how events unfold, while the remainder have “no confidence at all” in the future.

SAYFC used the survey to inform its vision for post-Brexit agriculture.

The association’s Brexit report was launched at a meeting in Perth and focuses on five Brexit “asks”, which include access to markets with emphasis on the lamb meat market; availability of finance, to encourage innovation and growth; access to land, including looking at new fiscal measures that may encourage outgoing farmers to let land to new entrants; farm business support to support new businesses in a volatile marketplace; and a thriving industry to ensure it can “feed the country and manage the land”.

The young farmers are concerned about the threat posed by imports, particularly if they do not have to meet the same standards as UK produce, and they call for a legal minimum price per litre law to ensure milk can’t be sold under a central price barrier.

They also call for a headage subsidy for stock produced by young farmers.

The paper states: “Subsidies have been misused and unfairly distributed for far too long, supporting those not fairly contributing to the industry and failing those who need it.

“If subsidies are to be continued, they should be based on merit and granted to those who contribute to the industry.”

SAYFC now plans to engage with industry stakeholders and policy-makers to ensure the voices of its members are heard.

The outgoing chairman of the association’s agri and rural affairs committee, Duncan Morrison, said: “The next 12 months will be crucial as we get closer to leaving the EU for good.

“There is so much still to be decided and it is vitally important that concerns of young farmers raised in this report are remedied.”

New chairman Iain Wilson added: “As we start a new year, we felt it was
essential that we had the thoughts and views of our members to allow our new agri affairs committee to push forward in this decisive 12-month period for the farming future of all our members.”