NFU Scotland has welcomed the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill passing Stage 3 in the Scottish Parliament yesterday (26 August) as a key step towards post-Brexit stability.
The Bill will create powers that enable Scottish Ministers to ensure the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can continue beyond this year, as well as retaining the ability to make much-needed improvements and simplifications to the scheme following Brexit. It will facilitate the transition period from 2021 to 2024 when Scotland will move to a new agricultural policy.
With the Bill passed, it is expected to secure Royal accent and the relevant Act created. Work is already underway to ensure the necessary secondary legislation is in place for those schemes such as the Basic Payment Scheme and the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme to be available in 2021.
Following the Stage 3 passing of the Bill, NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said
This is an important step towards delivering a much-needed stable platform for Scottish, food and farming as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and prepare for our departure from the European Union.
The Bill provides much needed continuity and certainty. More importantly, it also establishes the necessary legal basis to modify and improve how farming and crofting are supported in Scotland. As such, this enabling Bill creates the opportunity for change, improvement and simplification. As the Union highlighted earlier this year in its ‘Stability – The Platform for Change’ policy document, the powers created by the Bill must now be used to best effect.
Continuity and improvement of existing measures to meet their goals is the first step. The Bill must then facilitate more significant steps to change to underpin and enhance all the market and non-market benefits that are reliant on active farming and crofting in Scotland.
The transition period to 2024 and the work of the Farming and Food Production Future Policy Group, created last year and expected to report this autumn, will help define the direction of travel for future policy.
The passage of this important legislation has been punctuated by the Covid-19 crisis, which has demonstrated the vital contribution of Scotland’s farmers, crofters and growers. NFU Scotland thanks cross-party MSPs and the Scottish Government for their engagement with the industry throughout which will ensure a more certain pathway through the as-yet-unknown future operating environment.