Farmers and crofters are being encouraged to apply for support through the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS).
The plea from NFU Scotland (NFUS) comes following the opening of the scheme for applications earlier this week.
The union’s president, Andrew McCornick, encouraged producers to make use of the next round of the environmental land management scheme, which is open for applications until June 30.
The Scottish Government confirmed the continuation of the scheme late last year after months of intense lobbying from farming and environmental bodies, including NFUS.
The level of funding available is not clear and this year’s scheme will focus on designated sites, organics, management supporting farmland waders, corn buntings and corncrakes, slurry stores and improving public access for activities such as walking and cycling.
Mr McCornick welcomed the opening of AECS applications, but called for assurances from Scottish Government that it will continue beyond 2021.
“AECS currently requires in the region of £40 million per year – a relatively small investment that yields a big return,” said Mr McCornick.
“Failure to support AECS in the next few years may result in existing contracts ending year on year from 2022 onwards and a very large area of land falling out of environmental management.”
He added: “Decisions on the future of agri-environment schemes from 2021 and beyond must be a priority.
“Farmers, crofters and their advisors need certainty and time to plan for applications with confidence so that they can deliver on high quality food production whilst meeting the challenges of biodiversity and climate change head on.”
Mary Munro, head of farming in Scotland for land agency Strutt & Parker, said the restrictive list of options for the latest round of the scheme would exclude many farmers.
She added: “However, for those that are eligible, the scheme may offer useful funding for work that will help to protect and enhance the environment.”