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Farming in Scotland

Croft near Golspie, Scotland

Image: Andy Hay

Scottish farming shows much variation across the country. Arable and vegetable production is concentrated in the east and south of the country, with barley being the most important crop.

The majority of the farmed area (84 per cent) is included in the 'Less Favoured Area' - a European classification indicating that the farming conditions are more difficult. Livestock production (sheep and cattle) are most important in the LFA. In many of the more remote areas in the north and west, crofting is an important form of land management.

Scotland has a high proportion of High Nature Value farming and crofting – mainly livestock systems which maintain important biodiversity. Despite this, Scotland receives the lowest Rural Development allocation per hectare of farmed land in Europe. Agri-environment support is not sufficient to meet biodiversity objectives. Farming activity in HNV area is declining – often with further negative impacts on biodiversity.

The RSPB in Scotland is working for:

  • All agricultural support to work in the same direction to deliver environmental public goods 
  • Better integration of agriculture policy with the objectives of water, climate change and forestry policies through the Scottish Government's sustainable Land Use Strategy 
  • Better funding for our agri-environment programme, to bring it in line with other UK and European countries 
  • Support for High Nature Value farming through a dedicated scheme which recognises the benefits extensive farming systems already provide 
  • Targeted support to national and regional environmental priorities to benefit key species such as corncrakes, corn buntings, breeding wading birds and black grouse  
  • Better management of the wider agricultural landscape through a more effective lower level agri-environment scheme encouraging uptake of a range of environmental options and greener Direct Support 
  • An appropriate level of land management planning and advice to accompany support, so that it delivers the most for the environment and land managers and encourages farmers to work together.