Changes to the Scottish Government’s £130m Greening scheme have been welcomed as a “significant step” by farmers.
The initiative – which sees farmers receive an extra payment for complying with some regulations – has been in place since 2015 as part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
It will continue next year despite the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing the legislation included powers to continue CAP after Brexit and to “make improvements that are tailored to suit Scotland’s unique agricultural and rural needs”.
He said the changes being introduced “mark the first steps to implement simplifications and improvements to the administration of CAP schemes”.
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said the organisation had “consistently argued that the EU’s blunt Greening rules were poorly targeted on Scottish environmental issues”, adding the announcement from the Scottish Government was a “significant step in the right direction”.
Speaking about the changes, he said: “Scrapping the crop diversification requirement (three crop rule) makes for common sense, while the importance of permanent grassland and efficient input use should be explored in the context of both climate ambitions and business performance.”
With Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) being kept in the short term subject to a wider review, Mr McCornick said: “The Union has long advocated smarter, more effective options that are also less onerous.
“If the principle of EFAs is to be retained, then it’s right that farmer-led revisions are made to embrace climate change as well as biodiversity.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country