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Farming Union takes to the road and online to discuss future agricultural policy

By David Porter

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Martin Kennedy - President of NFU Scotland will chair the meetings.
Martin Kennedy - President of NFU Scotland will chair the meetings.

NFU Scotland is to undertake a series of online and face-to-face meetings ahead of responding to the Scottish Government consultation on how the nation transitions to a new agricultural policy.

Central to that transition will be taking forward the findings and recommendations of the Farmer-led Climate Change Groups (FLGs) to pave the way for legislation that will redefine agricultural support in Scotland.

The Union’s programme of engagement with members kicks off with a national webinar on Wednesday 13 October at 7pm, to be chaired by NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy, and include a presentation from Director of Policy Jonnie Hall.

Registration is at: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_0yCSuObsTVal-cJIKZ3CMA

That will be followed by a series of meetings round the country at which both Martin Kennedy and Jonnie Hall will attend.

The purpose of the webinar and meetings is to set out the current situation, the intentions of the Scottish Government and gauge current thinking from farmers and crofters on how best they can be supported to deliver on sustainable food production, climate ambitions and nature restoration simultaneously.

NFU Scotland launched its proposal for a future support package via its report ‘The Transition to Future (Conditional) Agricultural Support – NFU Scotland’s Approach’ in July 2021.

These proposals for the structure of future support distilled the concepts and principles from the five FLGs and the Union’s own ‘Steps to Change’ proposals to design a uniquely Scottish future agricultural policy framework.

In August, the Scottish Government announced the establishment of the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB) together with the publication of a consultation entitled ‘Agricultural Transition in Scotland: first steps towards our national policy’.

The Scottish Government consultation, which closes in mid-November, also builds on the recommendations from the FLGs.

It sets out several key questions which are intended to inform wider work on the development of agricultural policy and the replacement to the Common Agricultural Policy.

Both the consultation and the outputs of the ARIOB will directly inform proposals for a future Agriculture Bill. The Bill will be introduced in 2023 to deliver a new support framework.

Director of Policy Jonnie Hall said: “This is a defining moment for Scottish agriculture.

"The prize of a new, properly funded, agricultural support package that delivers for Scotland’s current and future needs is the biggest priority for the Union.

"We need to move beyond the rhetoric and see action that will deliver meaningful change for our farmers and crofters.

“For more than four years, partly driven by the catalyst of Brexit, NFU Scotland has been championing the need for change to a new agricultural policy.

"The challenge facing Scottish agriculture has never been clearer – tackling climate change and biodiversity loss whilst simultaneously contributing to Scotland’s ambitious food and drink sector targets.

"It is not a case of one over the others.

“To achieve this, Scottish Government must act now to implement and deliver.

"Further talk or delay will inevitably lead to failure, and an unbearable cost to the rural economy and its communities as well as the environment.

“This consultation is our chance to ensure that farming and crofting across Scotland meets environmental and climate challenges in a uniquely Scottish way while still delivering high quality, sustainable food production that underpins Scotland’s food and drink sector and maintains the social and economic fabric of rural areas.”

The scheduled regional meetings are-

Thursday, October 14 - North-east; Monday, October 25 Highland; Monday, November 1 Orkney and Shetland and Monday, November 8 Highland (virtual).

All meetings will be held in the evening and will be face to face (unless indicated).

Venues and times will be confirmed and invites issued regionally.

The Scottish Government consultation is available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/agricultural-transition-scotland-first-steps-towards-national-policy-consultation-paper/

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