ONLY a quarter of Scottish farmers are optimistic about the impact Brexit will have on the industry, a survey has found.

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) questioned nearly 2500 farmers, crofters and smallholders about the UK’s exit from the EU.

It found 25% are positive about Brexit, with the rest more sceptical.

Around 37% have negative views about the impact on Scottish agriculture, while another 37% are neutral but have concerns about future plans for farming.

Those with large farms are more likely to be sceptical or pessimistic about Brexit, the research found.

Farmers in the Highlands and islands are more likely to be pessimistic towards Brexit, while higher proportions of farmers who are optimistic are in southern and eastern Scotland.

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Professor Andrew Barnes from SRUC, who conducted the research, said: “What this work shows is the large amount of stasis in the industry driven by the uncertainties around Brexit and wider trading conditions.

“Ultimately, the concern is that this leads to a decline in investment and has consequent impacts on productivity and growth in the future.

“Making a business more resilient to change, as we’ve seen in the recent Covid-19 outbreak, is essential to ensuring sustainability for our own agricultural industry.”

Responding to the survey, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “This survey shows that the majority of farmers in Scotland have very real concerns about the impact Brexit will have on them and their businesses.

“I share their concerns, particularly as farmers are now left facing a double threat.

“When this survey was undertaken, no-one could have imagined the enormous economic dislocation which the coronavirus pandemic has caused.

“Failing to request an extension to the Brexit transition period at this time is particularly reckless.

“The UK Government has also repeatedly failed to provide clarity on the issue of UK food import standards and trade deals. The UK Government’s refusal to accept amendments to the UK Agriculture Bill has sent worrying signals of its intent.

“Lowering standards in the pursuit of trade deals would do untold damage to the UK and Scottish food production industry, especially when the majority of our produce is currently exported to the EU.”