Ag Bill a Necessity, Must Provide Launch Pad to Future Policy Development

SCOTLAND, UK - In evidence to the Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee in Scottish Parliament yesterday (18 December), NFUS said a bill that allows continuity of CAP payments is a necessity but must provide a launch pad to driving forward future agricultural policy in Scotland.
calendar icon 19 December 2019
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The oral evidence from NFU Scotland on the Scottish Government’s Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) follows written evidence provided earlier this month.

NFUS’ position on the Bill is that, on the whole, it represents an effective 'cut and paste' of powers currently conferred to Scottish Ministers under the existing Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It considers the Bill to be an essential piece of legislation to ensure continuity of payment delivery in the wake of the UK’s exit from the EU.

The Bill is 'enabling' legislation rather than 'policy' so the Union is keen to identify how the Bill might be used to determine future agricultural policy in Scotland.

Speaking after the evidence session in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Director of Policy Jonnie Hall said: "This is an ‘enabling’ Bill rather than a 'policy' setting Bill and is absolutely necessary to ensure continuity in the immediate post-Brexit period which looks, more certain than ever, to be from 1 January 2021.

"It’s vital that the current CAP schemes and their associated payments and rules, continue in the short term to provide much needed certainty and stability for farmers and crofters.

"The Bill also enables Scottish ministers to tweak existing CAP rules to provide a degree of much needed simplification and to develop new policy options through the piloting of new approaches between 2021 and 2024.

"However, while this Bill enables things to happen in the next few years it does not set a clear policy direction for Scottish agriculture over what will be a defining decade.

"Scottish Government’s Stability and Simplicity agenda is needed, but we also need clearly defined objectives for Scottish agriculture for the next ten years to 2030.

"That is given greater urgency by the twin challenges of growing Scotland’s vitally important food and drinks sector whilst also making a very significant and positive contribution to tackling the climate change challenge.

"That requires clear policy direction and the development of a new approach to supporting farmers and crofters based on activity and actions that underpin productivity and environmental delivery.

"So the valid question is does this Bill enable new agricultural policy to go far enough and fast enough?"

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