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Preparing for the future of Agriculture in Scotland

9th December 2022

The National Sheep Association (NSA) Scottish Region has responded in full to the recent Scottish Government Consultation: ‘Delivering our vision for Scottish agriculture - proposals for a new Agriculture Bill’.

NSA Scottish Region Coordinator, Grace Reid comments: “NSA Scottish Region welcomed the opportunity to respond to the Scottish Government’s proposals for a new Agricultural Bill. One of our key concerns going forward is that all implemented powers and policy should be fair, simplistic, easy to understand and implement and should follow a straightforward practical approach.

“NSA appreciates the enormity of what is involved in creating a new agricultural policy. However, we find it increasingly difficult to relate to what it entails due to lack of necessary detail in which to make an informed response. Thus, NSA Scottish Region felt it necessary to stipulate that going forward further clarity, transparency, understanding and two-way communication as a minimum is required to ensure forthcoming policy can deliver upon the needs of Scotland’s sheep industry, agricultural sectors and the wider supply chain to deliver the many outcomes of the future. We all are heavily invested in getting this process right the first time and for it to be beneficial for all.”

Throughout the consultation are various mentions of high quality food production, climate mitigation, wider rural development and nature enhancement and restoration alongside the need for integrated land management and supporting the agri-food supply chain. The consultation sets out a four tiered approach to enable future payments which consist of a Base Level Direct Payment, an Enhanced Level Direct Payment, an Elective Payment and Complementary Support.

Furthermore, the need for flexibility in terms of crises, exceptional and unforeseen conditions were also consulted upon as well as measures such as a ‘Whole Farm Plan’ approach in addition to Cross Compliance Regulations and Greening measures. Animal health and welfare, and biosecurity were also topics of inclusion with data sharing and collection featuring alongside innovation, skills and knowledge transfer.

Ms Reid continues: “We need to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs whether it be via sustainable food production, delivering upon climate and environmental goals whilst maintaining and enhancing the resilience of our farming practices and ecosystems. Our nation has become increasingly reliant upon global trade not only for exports but also imports – we cannot compromise food security nor the ability to afford to feed ourselves in the future.

Whilst we enter a period of great uncertainty in terms of new agricultural policy and everchanging financial crises, we have a duty to protect the positive practices in which our flocks already deliver to the wider environment and therefore society as a whole.”