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SLE welcomes draft Agriculture Bill’s dedication to sustainable farming and nature

Eleanor Kay (Scottish Land & Estates)

SCOTTISH Land & Estates has welcomed publication of the draft Agriculture Bill and its commitment to environment and nature. 

The Agriculture and Rural Communities Bill will reform how the Scottish Government supports farming and food production in Scotland. It will legislate to introduce a new framework of support to replace the current Common Agricultural Policy. 

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Eleanor Kay, Senior Policy Adviser – Agriculture & Climate Change at Scottish Land & Estates, said:  

“We are delighted to see that food production, nature restoration and climate mitigation are given equal billing in the overarching objectives of the Bill. What is vital is that this Bill must be backed up with a sufficient budget to deliver the large-scale behaviour change required to deliver sustainable agriculture and the transition to regenerative farming practices. 

“The Rural Support Plan has the potential to address all the concerns that the agricultural sector has on the rollout of the powers in this bill and we are keen to engage on the development of this plan and the creation of the code of practice on sustainable farming and regenerative agriculture. 

“SLE is a firm supporter of sustainable agriculture and the principles of regenerative agriculture are clearly demonstrated in our #Route2050 routemap as well as our response to the Agriculture Bill consultation. 

“For this Bill to be effective in delivering in the decades ahead, the content of secondary legislation will be key and we expect the Scottish Government to quickly confirm what will be required in this regard as well as the timescale for delivery.”  

SLE did add that many questions remain unanswered regarding future support for farming and land management. 

Eleanor continued:  

“Publication of this draft legislation has been anticipated for many years and its arrival is a welcome step. Whilst we will need to study the Bill in greater detail in the coming days, it would pose some questions at first glance. 

“This is a framework bill and whilst we were not expecting finite detail, it should perhaps have created a clearer signpost for how farming businesses should be looking to implement the necessary changes to their management practices in order to improve their resilience to climate change and for ongoing food production. 

“At this stage we are concerned about the open-endedness of who will be eligible for support and the ability for ministers to set support eligibility based on how a business is structured. It remains a real source of frustration that the Scottish Government did not engage with the sector outside of the narrow grouping of the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB).  

“Poor communication with the sector must be addressed as a matter of priority as the powers in this bill are rolled out and the agriculture reform programme continues to be developed.” 

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