Global Agriculture

New reports provide guidance on future agricultural policy

31 August 2023, UK: New research to help develop a unique approach to Scottish agricultural policy has been published.

Twelve reports have been produced that explore some of the options and mechanisms Scottish Government will need to consider whilst developing its upcoming plans for agriculture with a renewed focus on delivering for both industry and for nature.

The collaborative effort included staff from Scotland’s Rural College, The James Hutton Institute, Pareto Consulting and ICF.

The research was commissioned by the Rural & Environment Science & Analytical Services and has already been considered by the Scottish Government’s Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board.

Rural Affairs and Islands Secretary Mairi Gougeon, who is co-chair of ARIOB, said: “As a result of Brexit, Scotland must now forge its own path and develop a farming support system that is both practical and sustainable.

“We remain fully committed in our efforts to develop a new framework that emphasises high quality food production and encourages farming methods that will help tackle the twin biodiversity and climate crises.

“I’d like to thank all of the researchers for their diligent work on such a crucial project. This analysis is already yielding results and I have no doubt it will continue to inform our decision-making in the future.”

Martin Kennedy, NFUS President and co-chair of ARIOB, said: “To make the right decisions and secure the desired outcomes from Scotland’s future agricultural policy, we must have accurate facts, figures and analysis.  We welcome the publication of these reports, as they provide a stronger, more robust evidence base around which crucial decisions on the future of our industry can be based.

“With the reports in the public domain, their content opens up the debate about what Scottish agriculture needs from the future support framework that will follow on from the forthcoming Agriculture Bill, about to start its passage through the Scottish Parliament.”

Lead researcher at the Hutton, Dr Keith Matthews, says, “The proposals in the Vision for Scottish Agriculture have the potential to deliver a step-change in how agriculture and wider land management address the climate and biodiversity crises while promoting high quality food production. 

“This is a complex and contested policy area, but one in which Scottish Government has consistently used strategic and applied research to help generate and evaluate policy options. Hutton researchers are committed to the processes that inform the necessary policy debate on priorities and burden-sharing, to ensure that there can be a Just Transition.”

Lead researcher Professor Steven Thomson of SRUC, said: “This project enabled our team of experts to work closely with the Scottish Government to establish where there were emerging evidence and analytical data gaps as Scottish agricultural policy evolves. 

“It is a hugely complex jigsaw puzzle that requires a deep understanding of the industry, current support structures and evolving Scottish Government priorities to consider and advise on the trade-offs that will likely be required.”

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