Agriculture: Scottish agricultural policy suffers from a lack of information

SLE chair, Mark Tennnant

That’s the claim made in an updated strategic plan due to be launched by Scottish Land and Estates at the Royal Highland Show today.

Calling for a redesign of the Agricultural Reform Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB), SLE says it is not moving fast enough – and its members do not reflect a wide enough range of industry views .

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“We recognize that progress has been made, but great uncertainty remains,” SLE President Mark Tennnant said, speaking ahead of today’s launch. “This uncertainty makes decision-making, investment and long-term planning incredibly difficult for land managers and rural businesses in Scotland.”

He said that while the current composition of the group was appropriate to address the particular issue of livestock emissions, a wider range of interests should be included to develop a future strategy.

And SLE policy adviser Paul Richardson added that while there has been some progress in land use policy and subsidy support in recent years, the pace of change is not fast enough. and there remained an “information void” – particularly, he said, from ARIOB.

“This has created a lot of uncertainty for the industry, with opportunities to implement change in these crucial lost years,” said Richardson, who led the #Route2050 ‘On Track’ strategy update. for Rural Scotland” from the organisation, which will be published later today. .

The Rural Business Organizing publication will focus on immediate demands during the transition period to 2025, as well as an overview of what rural support might look like beyond 2025.

Tennant said it was essential that future policy addressed the three key elements of food production, climate change and biodiversity equally when designing Scotland’s future grant support scheme, which, should ensure that the rural economy can continue to thrive.

In the transition period ahead of the implementation of the yet to be unveiled Scottish Farm Bill, SLE is also asking the government to decide on a standardization of carbon auditing measures as well as the rapid introduction of a biodiversity assessment tool.

The strategy also calls for a reform of the way the Rural Payments and Inspections Division engages with farmers and land managers – saying it should move from an inspection and enforcement role to a advisory role.

The organization also proposes that 50% of future farm grants should be ‘unconditional’ in order to maintain food security and thriving production in Scotland – and be based on something akin to the Macaulay land classification scale with an integrated active farming requirement. .

“We need to make sure we preserve critical mass in Scottish farming and maintain food production and that’s why 50% of support should be unconditional for active farmers to act as a stability payment,” Tennant said.

Beyond that, he said conditional payments, including funding for capital grant programs, should build on the work of farmer-led groups and be used to achieve policy goals that address key problems.

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