Greening to continue in 2021

Scotland’s £130 million greening scheme will continue next year, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has confirmed. Measures to simplify and improve the agricultural practice, which increases the environmental performance of farming, have also been announced. Updates to the Greening regulations, which form part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), include:

  • removing crop diversification with effect from 2021
  • keeping permanent grassland to provide protection to Scotland’s semi natural and environmentally sensitive grassland
  • keeping Ecological Focus Areas (EFA’s) in the short term subject to a wider review

Mr Ewing said: “The Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill which passed last week gives us powers to continue CAP after Brexit, and make improvements that are tailored to suit Scotland’s unique agricultural and rural needs.

“These changes for Greening mark the first steps to implement simplifications and improvements to the administration of CAP schemes, as well as giving farmers reassurance to plan their crops now.

“We have worked closely with stakeholders and listened to the farming and crofting communities to simplify the schemes we administer. Removing crop diversification from Greening not only does this, but demonstrates our commitment to practices that are favourable for the climate and the environment.

“By working with farmers and crofters to enhance EFAs we can help cut emissions and enhance the environment in a way that is practical for Scottish agriculture.

“As set out in our Programme for Government, we are committed to a green recovery, and Scotland’s rural economy will be at the heart of that.”

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said:

“The premise on which the Scottish Government’s Greening proposals are based is that direct support payments will continue in Scotland from 2021 until at least 2024 on the same basis as they do now. As a consequence, if environmental conditionality is to be attached to financial support, then NFU Scotland has always made it clear that any required measures must work with the grain of agricultural businesses as well as deliver meaningful environmental outcomes.

“NFU Scotland has consistently argued that the EU’s blunt Greening rules were poorly targeted on Scottish environmental issues. Today’s announcement from Scottish Government is a significant step in the right direction.

“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.

“As for EFAs, 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.”


For complying with Greening regulations, farmers receive an additional payment on top of the Basic Payment Scheme.

The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) is part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Under the CAP, it is mandatory for applicants to the Basic Payment Scheme to comply with Greening requirements, where relevant on their land.

Greening has been part of direct payment support to farmers and crofters since 2015. The requirements vary depending on agricultural practices undertaken by a business but help to deliver environmental and climate change benefits.

Ecological Focus Areas (EFA’s) will be kept in the short term but will be considered as part of a wider review of Greening that will be taken forward as a Programme for Government commitment to ensure that this funding plays its full part in helping farming deliver action on climate change and the environment which better meet Scotland’s needs.

In line with PfG commitments, reviewing EFA’s will help to inform the Scottish Governments recommendations for new mechanisms of agricultural support that secure a productive sector better able to contribute towards delivering Scotland’s world leading climate change outcomes.

The announcement to remove the crop diversification element from Greening, is a simplification welcomed by agricultural stakeholders and removes complexity that was not necessary in Scotland’s arable landscape.

Find out more by visiting the Greening Guidance 2021 page.

Published on: 11 September, 2020