An in-depth economic study of Scotland’s farms has been at the forefront of helping to inform agricultural policy for the last 85 years.
This is according to the team at SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), who are responsible for carrying out the annual Scottish Farm Business Survey.
First conducted in 1936, in the aftermath of the Great Depression, the survey gathers data which goes to both the Scottish and UK Governments to assess the impact of changes in agricultural policy on farming businesses.
And, with today’s farmers facing the challenges associated with Covid-19, climate change and Brexit, the Scottish Farm Business Survey is now arguably more important than ever.
Project Manager Sascha Grierson, from SAC Consulting, said: “We capture a true picture of what’s happening in farming businesses in response to policy change, and environmental and economic shocks such as those caused by climate change, Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. In these changing times, there has never been a more important time to gather this information.”
The information not only feeds back to the Scottish and UK governments, but has also fed data to the EU Farm Accounts Data Network. That information, alongside similar data collected from all EU member states, has directly informed the CAP and its various changes over the years.
Participation is the survey is voluntary and confidential, with a network of up to 450 farms in Scotland taking part each year. In particular this year, SAC Consulting will be welcoming smaller sized beef and sheep farms, with a turnover of £30,000 to £100,000, to join the survey.
Businesses taking part are allocated a Farm Business Analyst from SAC Consulting. In return for taking part, farmers are given a farm business report, a benchmarking report which gives them detailed information on the productivity and financial performance of their business compared to similar businesses; and a detailed carbon audit carried out by SAC Consulting’s award-winning Agrecalc tool.
This audit helps farmers better understand their business in the environmental context, while also helping with grant applications.
Last year’s Scottish Farm Business Survey will be published on the Scottish Government website in March.