Scottish Agriculture Bill to become law

MSPs have backed legislation that the Scottish Government says will transform how the Scottish Government supports farming and food production.

The Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill will ensure the Scottish Government can help farmers and crofters to produce more food more sustainably, supporting their essential role in climate mitigation and nature restoration. It will allow for a framework of payments that is responsive to the sector’s needs.

This legislation will also drive support for rural communities, the economy, and for land management and the environment.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said, “Agriculture is vital to our economy. Our vision for agriculture sets out how the government will support farming and food production in Scotland to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

“The bill provides a future framework that will help deliver this vision, supporting farmers and crofters to meet our immediate and long-term food needs sustainably and to adapt to new opportunities and challenges. It will enable the delivery of support schemes that will ensure that agriculture continues to play its part in cutting emissions, mitigating climate change, enhancing nature and biodiversity, together with food production.

“Our food and farming sectors have a critical role to play in a sustainable, resilient food system. As we transition to a new framework of support, we will do this in a way that is just, that ensures no cliff edges in support and by taking our agricultural industry and rural communities with us.”

NFU Scotland has welcomed the passing of the bill.

NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy Jonnie Hall said, “The bill reflects so much of what we have pressed for over the last few years. It means we have the tools in place to implement a new agricultural support framework to enable farmers and crofters to deliver the desired outcomes around food production, biodiversity enhancement and climate change mitigation that only they can.

“This legislation is vital as it enables Scotland, in a post-Brexit, post-CAP era, to develop its own approach to future policy and support.

“We have been clear from the start; the bill must have flexibility and scope to deliver for farmers and crofters across Scotland and much of what we sought is included is in the bill.

“A profitable, sustainable agricultural industry is key to Scotland’s ambitions and having the powers to deliver the right support is crucial. Powers are one thing; it is how those powers are used that matters most.

“With the primary legislation in place, the task of developing and implementing the new support framework can really begin. Getting this right is critical.

“Farmers and crofters must be recognised and rewarded for actions they take, and incentivised to enable change to improve the resilience, efficiency and profitability of the agriculture sector. Only then will the outcomes we all want be delivered.”

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