Draft bill hopes to make Scotland 'global leader' in sustainable farming

The bill will put forward a payments framework that incentives a drive towards 'low carbon approaches'
The bill will put forward a payments framework that incentives a drive towards 'low carbon approaches'

The Scottish government has launched new draft legislation aiming to make Scotland a 'global leader' in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

The Agriculture and Rural Communities Bill will reform how the Scottish government supports farming and food production in Scotland.

Supporting farmers and crofters to produce food more sustainably, work with nature and reduce emissions is at the heart of the draft bill.

Legislation will be put in place to deliver a framework of support to replace the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

This will be in the form of a new payments framework that incentives a drive towards 'low carbon approaches'.

Direct payments will continue in the mean time, with the Scottish government saying a 'phased approach' would be taken for 'integrating new conditionality'.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Mairi Gougeon hailed the new Bill was a significant milestone in reforming the agricultural support systems.

She said: “I understand that the sector needs flexibility now and in the future to respond to the pressures and challenges that we will face.

"As we move forward our Bill will allow for adaptive support for farmers, crofters and land managers in the near, medium and long term future.

"We will take the time necessary develop the detail of our policy with the people directly affected by it."

The draft legislation aims to deliver the key ambitions set out in the Scottish government’s Vision for Agriculture.

This includes helping farmers to produce food more sustainably, to support their role in delivering climate mitigation and adaptation, and in biodiversity restoration.

Responding, Scottish Conservative shadow rural affairs secretary, Rachael Hamilton, said there was 'still little in the way of detail' for the agriculture sector.

“SNP-Green ministers also have a brass neck tagging on rural communities to the title of this bill," she added.

“They have presided over endless delays to their flagship broadband programme and left communities waiting endlessly for lifeline transport services.

“This bill cannot be a wasted opportunity and we will hold SNP-Green ministers to account to ensure it delivers the right support going forward for farmers."

A call to the sector will soon launch for farmers to participate in interviews, surveys, online and in-person workshops to help shape the bill.