Ariane Burgess MSP visited farms in Strathspey and Nairn as part of a tour to meet food producers across the Highlands & Islands.
Ms Burgess, who has a background in community food growing, is meeting with farmers to learn more about the challenges they are currently facing and how these could be addressed through the Agriculture Bill and future payment framework.
The Green MSP’s farm tour includes an 800 acre cattle farm, a small diversified farm where vegetables are grown alongside sheep and chickens, an organic fruit and veg holding, and other livestock and arable farms.
Ms Burgess met with the cattle farm owner and his family, alongside representatives from the Scottish Government-funded Monitor Farm programme, Quality Meat Scotland, and local farm veterinarians.
At the well-established, small diversified farm Ms Burgess was given a tour by a young farmer who has taken on the running of the farm.
Commenting, Ms Burgess said:
“It was great to meet with farmers who are prioritising biodiversity alongside food production.
“The clear message was that farmers want to focus on making improvements, not filling out forms.
“Farmers are facing considerable challenges, including a shortage of affordable housing and skilled workers, and the need to adapt to a changing climate.
“If we are to make good use of the considerable amount of public money farmers receive, they must be supported to provide public goods, like restoring on-farm peatland so it can absorb carbon emissions and help fight climate change.
“The Agriculture Bill will create powers for Scottish Government Ministers to establish new support payment schemes, but the detail will come later, through secondary legislation.
“It will be crucial that the Scottish Government provides the information farmers will need to do in order to get the payments, as soon as possible, so they can plan for the changes ahead with confidence and certainty.