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Holyrood Committee launches inquiry into the Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill

Finlay Carson MSP

HOLYROOD’S Rural Affairs and Islands Committee has today launched a call for views to inform its consideration of the Scottish Government’s Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill.

The legislation represents the Scottish Government’s ‘vision for agriculture’ to transform farming and food production in Scotland and to make it a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

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The Bill provides a framework that Scottish Ministers ‘will use to develop the support that farming and rural communities need in order to adapt to new opportunities and new challenges, and to prosper in a changing world’.

It also gives Scottish Ministers the powers to provide financial support through a four-tier model to farmers, crofters and rural communities to achieve high quality food production; climate mitigation and adaptation; nature restoration and wider rural development.

The Scottish Government believes this approach – a framework bill with the policy details made by regulations at a later date – would give it the flexibility to respond “to future social, economic and environmental changes, challenges and opportunities”.

The Committee has undertaken pre-legislative scrutiny of future agriculture policy through a programme of evidence sessions, roundtables, and farm visits. Now that the Bill has been introduced, it is keen to hear the views of stakeholders and members of the public with an interest in the sector on the specific proposals in the Bill.

The deadline for responding to the call for views is Friday 24 November and the survey can be accessed via the link here.

Speaking as the inquiry was launched, Committee Convener, Finlay Carson MSP, said;

“This legislation is crucial to support our farming, crofting and rural communities to continue to produce high quality food and meet our biodiversity and climate targets.

“Although it doesn’t include much policy detail, it will create a framework which will set the overall policy direction and give Scottish Ministers the powers to provide financial and other support.

“If Scotland is to achieve its ambition of becoming a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture, it is essential the Scottish Government gets this overall policy direction right.

“Sharing your views with us now will directly impact our thinking and will help us secure the best route for Scotland’s agricultural sector to flourish for generations to come.

Following the call for views, the Committee plan to take oral evidence from late November through to early February before reporting to the Scottish Parliament with its recommendations in Spring 2024.

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