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Importance of Advisory Service in Next SRDP Stressed in Letter to Cab Sec

NFU Scotland has written to Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead to highlight the importance of the advisory services element of the next Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP).

Mr Miller commented: “As the Cabinet Secretary and his officials move closer to finalising the next SRDP, NFU Scotland considered it important to highlight to them the importance of the advisory services element and make recommendations regarding its structure and focus.

“It is clear that the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will create implementation and compliance challenges, and increase the prominence of efficiency and climate change alongside other environmental objectives and ambitious food and drink targets. Scotland needs an advisory service that can help farmers and crofters meet these challenges.

“NFU Scotland has long sought a more collaborative approach to regulation and compliance, advocating that part of the official advisory services budget should be ring-fenced for use by Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate.

“Staff working in this role – fire-walled from their enforcement colleagues – explaining regulation and objectives can only improve compliance, avoid conflict and create a collaborative culture. The start of a more complex CAP is the right time to introduce this approach.

“Although the majority of the advisory services budget is likely to be used to support wider policy objectives, NFU Scotland is also mindful of the importance of improving the technical efficiency of Scottish agriculture. Building skills and understanding, ensuring strong knowledge transfer, and capturing the full spectrum of knowledge from all our research institutes must be considered fundamental objectives of the new advisory service.

“NFU Scotland expects that SAC Consulting will have a key role in delivery of the new advisory service. With its parent organisation, SRUC, reviewing its operations and perhaps moving closer to the University of Edinburgh, it is the right time to review the structure and functions of SAC Consulting to ensure it can deliver the advisory service we all know we need and want.

“In particular, NFU Scotland wishes to see management and governance of the advisory service reflect its pivotal role in developing Scottish agriculture while remaining embedded in the farming community. Representation from all the research institutes and from the industry to steer that effort can add value and extend the reach of a new advisory body.”

Ends

Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 119/14


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