Union to use regional and national events to discuss Bill
NFU Scotland is to use its series of regional AGMs and its forthcoming national AGM to discuss the landmark Land Reform Bill further with its membership.
The annual round of AGMs opens this evening (11 January) in East Central region, at Huntingtower Hotel, near Perth. There will be 10 Regional AGMs in the coming few weeks while the national AGM will be held on the 11 and 12 February at the Fairmont Hotel, St Andrews.
Although NFU Scotland has consulted extensively with its members on the Land Reform Bill proposals, amendments to the Bill proposed by Scottish Government at the end of 2015 means that further consultation with members, focussing on the elements of the Bill that relate to agricultural tenancies, is wholly appropriate.
The Union will, on Friday (15 January) submit written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee on the Land Reform Bill. It then intends to provide updated evidence to the Parliament’s lead committee following the conclusion of its discussions with members and ahead of the Committee’s examination of the agricultural holdings proposals on 10 February.
Speaking ahead meeting members at the East Central AGM, NFU Scotland Chief Executive Scott Walker said: “The Land Reform Bill will have far reaching consequences for all farmers. That is why we have consulted widely with our members during the whole process leading up to the proposed Bill and will continue to discuss with our members any suggested amendments to the Bill.
“While very detailed in nature, the proposals merit close scrutiny – in a relatively short space of time – to ensure we arrive at a more vibrant tenanted sector in Scotland.
“The Bill before Parliament contains a proposal that would enable 1991 Act agricultural tenancies to be converted into modern limited duration tenancies (MLDTs), which the tenant could then assign to a new tenant on the open market.
“But already we understand that this proposal is subject to an amendment by the Scottish Government. That amendment would allow 1991 Act agricultural tenancies to be assigned as a secure tenancy to a limited group of people with the existing landowner having the first option of buying out the tenants’ rights.
“With such a radical change to the Bill now a possibility, it was only right that we ask our members for their views as to whether such an amendment is in the best interest of the tenanted sector.
“It is important for Scottish farming that this Bill, once made law, is fit for purpose. All too often we have seen Bills rushed through and not delivering what was hoped for. This Bill is too important to get wrong.”

• The forthcoming Regional AGM programme is on-25 January – Dumfries & Galloway AGM, Douglas Arms, Castle Douglas (7.30pm)

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