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Agriculture Bill Passes Stage One at Holyrood

Union welcomes progress towards stability and certainty

NFU Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s approval yesterday (Tuesday 5 May) of the Scottish Government’s Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) Bill at Stage One.

The Bill is ‘enabling’ legislation giving Scottish Ministers powers to roll over current CAP schemes and their associated payments and rules, giving stability for farmers and crofters in the face of the dual uncertainties of Covid-19 and Brexit.

NFUS will use the Bill to lobby for improvements to and simplification of existing CAP scheme rules in line with its major policy document ‘Stability – The Platform for Change’ launched in March and available to read at: https://www.nfus.org.uk/userfiles/images/Policy/Stability.pdf

NFU Scotland believes this new Bill must deliver improvements to problematic and contentious issues like mapping, inspections, and the penalty regime as well as major revisions to Greening requirements aligning environmental outcomes far closer to Scotland’s agricultural profile.  The Bill also allows for the development and delivery of new policy from 2024 or sooner, which will allow farmers, crofters, and growers to transition to even lower carbon and more productive systems.



The Union want the Bill to provide, as soon as is reasonably possible, a refocus of traditional direct support away from a simple blunt area-based approach to a targeted system aimed at active farming and crofting, incentivising environmental gains and climate ambitions.  According to NFUS, it is imperative the Bill provides the certainty of process from 2021 especially considering the vulnerability in the food supply chain exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

NFUS urges the Scottish Government to move with urgency to a new policy settlement to meet the ambitious goals of combatting climate change and improving productivity. This Bill is a critical first step in that process, to provide both stability and a platform for necessary change.

Speaking following the debate, NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “This Bill’s smooth passage through the parliamentary process is vital to provide certainty and stability for Scottish producers as well as laying the groundwork to drive our industry forward to deliver the high quality food that the market desires while playing a pivotal role in achieving environmental and climate goals.

“This is the first major parliamentary hurdle for this important Bill and NFUS looks forward to engaging very closely in Stages 2 and 3 when it returns to the parliament.

“The uncertainty facing agricultural businesses through the Brexit process has been massively compounded by a public health crisis with far reaching social and economic consequences. In that context, this Bill provides the necessary stability for agriculture to be a keystone around which recovery can be built.

“That said, this Bill does not set a clear policy direction for Scottish agriculture and NFUS is absolutely clear that a new policy-focussed Bill must also be introduced as soon as is reasonably possible.”  

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006


Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 56/20


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