NFU Scotland is calling on farmers and crofters to have their say on pivotal new powers that the Scottish Government is seeking through its proposals for an Agriculture Bill.
NFU Scotland has opened an online survey on the consultation at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/AgricultureBill which will take members 20 minutes to complete but their views and input are essential.
It will also hold an online seminar on Thursday 29 September at 7pm, chaired by President Martin Kennedy, with farmers and crofters invited to register at: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_cD02QnpzRDGOxvMkR96PUA
The proposals for the Bill, launched two weeks ago, relate to primary legislation. It will set the high-level powers that subsequently allow for more comprehensive secondary legislation to provide the required bespoke details, such as the specifics of schemes and measures around eligibility, options, payment rates, etc.
NFU Scotland has been highly critical that the detail that so many farmers and crofters need if they are to plan for and implement change were not part of the consultation process and it continues to push Scottish Government to put potential eligible support options into the public domain.
NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy Jonnie Hall said: “The Scottish Government consultation on a new Agriculture Bill is a critical step on the road to a new agricultural policy towards fundamentally changing how farming and crofting will be supported to deliver on a new policy agenda. But it is by no means the final step – far, far from it.
“Put simply, the Bill is not policy and it does not, and will not, set policy. However, the Bill is essential in that it will create the powers that are required to deliver future support from 2025 – not least in terms of future support payments. It is how the powers are used that will matter most – that is where the policy decisions and their implications for farming and crofting lie.
“It remains hugely frustrating that the Scottish Government has yet to set out any clear options as how any new powers created by the new Agriculture Bill can best be used to underpin active farming and crofting and put food production at the heart of delivering all the economic, social and environmental benefits that active agricultural businesses deliver across Scotland.
“NFU Scotland has been unequivocal that the new powers must be used to target future direct support at active farming and crofting – both to provide financial stability through post-Brexit turbulence and severe market volatility and to reward actions that improve productivity and build resilience.
“Only with the buy-in of farmers and crofters across Scotland can the dry legislation of a new Agriculture Bill turn policies objectives into practices that the outcomes of deliver for food, climate and nature and that is why their responses to this survey are so vital.”