Scotland's Ag Bill 'faces failure' if food production not backed

The Scottish government must underpin agricultural activity as part of the country's future farming policy, NFU Scotland says
The Scottish government must underpin agricultural activity as part of the country's future farming policy, NFU Scotland says

Scotland's new Agriculture Bill must deliver an 'unwavering commitment' to farming and crofting or 'face failure'.

The stark warning is part of NFU Scotland's 55-page response to the consultation on the Bill that is set to define Scottish agricultural policy from 2025 onwards.

As part of the response, the union called on the Scottish government to underpin food production as part of the country's future agricultural policy.

NFU Scotland warned that "if the pursuit of a misplaced vision is all that matters to Scottish Government, then Scotland’s future agricultural support policy will fail".

While the consultation is largely about delivering the necessary powers for a new policy via a new Bill, NFUS said it had "failed to fill the alarming policy void that farmers and crofters currently face".

Uncertainty over support levels and new schemes from 2025 onwards "is simply compounding the severe volatility and extreme uncertainty already affecting so many producers".

As a result, NFU Scotland has used the consultation to set out its current preferences as to how the future support framework should work.

Author of the response from NFU Scotland, director of policy Jonnie Hall said: “The context and validity of Scottish government’s vision for agriculture has changed dramatically.

"Its vision has been rapidly overtaken by circumstances that are severely challenging future food security. Spiralling costs are eroding confidence on Scotland’s farms and crofts.

"What they need, and what the proposals in the Bill fail to properly deliver, is clarity on how they will be supported in the future."

That message was delivered to Scotland’s politicians when hundreds of farmers and crofters joined the #FoodNeedsAFarmer rally outside Holyrood last month.

NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy said farmers had delivered a 'clear message' that any new policy created by the new bill must put food production 'front and centre'.

He added that food security was "now a global issue", and that farmers had a "moral obligation to produce it".

“At a UK level, we have taken our eye off the ball on energy and look at the mess we have got ourselves into," Mr Kennedy said.

"We cannot repeat that same mistake with food or the cost of living crisis we are all currently enduring will simply get worse.

“The ‘win, win, win’ for the Scottish government is that investing in this nation’s food production will deliver the wider environmental goals we all want to provide."