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Agriculture Bill is Next Step on Post-Brexit Future

Union to discuss proposals in two-day Westminster trip

NFU Scotland regards today’s publication of an Agriculture Bill as the next step towards determining the industry’s post-Brexit future and it will study and discuss in detail the proposals presented to Parliament.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick is in Westminster, where the Union is meeting with fellow UK Unions, Secretary of State Michael Gove, Defra officials, MPs and representatives in the House of Lords on the UK’s Brexit plans.

He said: “Brexit provides an opportunity to move out of the shadow of the CAP and today’s publication of the Agriculture Bill takes Scottish agriculture one step further towards its post-Brexit future.
 
“This is a detailed document and we will go over the proposals with a fine-tooth comb in the coming few days to fully establish what it means for Scotland’s farmers and crofters.    We will also make full use of our time here in Westminster over the next 48 hours.  We have already met with the Secretary of State Michael Gove along with fellow UK Unions ahead of meeting representatives in the House of Lords.

“We will also be meeting with Scottish MPs from all parties for an early briefing on the Bill’s potential implications for Scottish agriculture and we’re meeting in private with Defra officials responsible for the drafting of the Bill to seek earliest possible clarification on its contents, proposed powers, and intersection with the development, funding and delivery of devolved Scottish agricultural policy.

“In past discussions on overarching UK frameworks and the Bill, we have been crystal clear that the interests of Scottish agriculture will be best served by Scotland setting its own future policy so that it respects and underpins the unique agricultural profile of Scotland and recognises how Scotland differs from the rest of the UK.

“We fully accept the need for commonly agreed frameworks to preserve the integrity of the UK internal market, recognising that the most important outlet for Scottish produce is within these shores.

“Preserving or enhancing future funding levels for Scottish agriculture remains a red line issue for NFU Scotland as we are clearly stepping away from previous funding arrangements determined by the CAP.  We also want to be reassured that previous commitments on how Scotland’s share of the agricultural pot of funding will be determined will be delivered on.  That must take the review of convergence funding into consideration.

“Early reading of the Bill indicates that funding would, in the future, sit at a Defra level, ring-fenced to agriculture.  We need to establish what powers the Secretary of State would then hold in determining how that funding is distributed and what control Scotland would have in determining what type of schemes would be supported.  

“In our own 'Steps To Change' document, launched in March, we map out our vision of a bold agricultural policy based on supporting activity rather than land, and would deliver a profitable farming sector that underpins the huge social, economic and environmental contribution made by farmers and crofters.

“For that change to be managed, future plans must recognise the valuable flexibility provided by existing arrangements around the likes of coupled support and Less Favoured Areas Support.  The ability to target precious funding in the future, so that it more closely recognises and rewards activity is needed.”  

Specifically on red meat levies, NFU Scotland Livestock Committee Chairman Charlie Adam said: “It has long been understood that the issue of Red Meat Levy Repatriation would only be resolved though primary legislation.

“The UK Agriculture Bill is overarching primary legislation which covers a number of relevant topics. However, it does not currently address red meat levy repatriation despite positive statements from the UK Government on the issue.

“NFU Scotland believe that the Agriculture Bill is the correct vehicle to address the issue of lost Red Meat levy. QMS estimate that over £1.5 million of levy on Scottish animals is lost each year, we want to see swift progress to address this now, not in the distant future.” 

Notes to Editors

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 131/18


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