Consultation on Agriculture Bill necessary but policy progress more important.
Responding to the launch of Scottish Government’s consultation on an Agriculture Bill, NFU Scotland has expressed deep disappointment that greater detail on future policy options is still not available.
At a time when farming is facing a crisis in confidence, driven by rising input costs, volatile prices, labour shortages and extreme weather farmers and crofters are desperately seeking direction and reassurance that Scottish agricultural policy will support them to produce food profitably and sustainably in the future.
NFU Scotland views the consultation on the Bill as a necessary step towards a legislative, policy and support framework but what the nation’s farmers and crofters need right now is far greater detail on the measures and support that will help them deliver on food, climate change and nature in the future.
NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy said:
“Instead of more plans and declarations, we need a policy that supports farm output, supports the measures that will help us cut our carbon footprint and supports the measures that will enhance biodiversity.
“The work has already been done on this by numerous groups and through previous consultations.
“The Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board, which I co-chair, has discussed these measures.
“Our members need to see now how they will be supported in the future, and these should be in the public domain.
“With fertiliser 300% higher than last year, electricity prices quadrupled and diesel costs through the roof, the industry doesn’t have time to wait for detail.
“Production is falling and we need the Scottish Government to say how it is going to halt this decline and give farmers the confidence to keep going for the future.
“We know the direction we need to go in and we know the measures that can help transform individual farming and crofting businesses.
“This consultation is about delivering the necessary powers, but it does not fill the yawning policy gap that our members want to see filled.
“If the Scottish Government had listened to the industry years ago and decided then, we could have been started on this journey.
“Only with the buy-in of farmers and crofters across Scotland can legislation turn policies into practices that deliver for food, climate and nature so Scottish Government must fill that gap.”