Landmark Scottish agriculture bill signed into law

Legislation aiming to provide the framework for Scottish government to support farming and food production in Scotland has been passed unanimously at Holyrood.

The Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill was backed by 115 members of the Scottish parliament, with none voting against it on Tuesday 18 June.

Ministers will now be tasked with creating a five-year, post-Brexit plan, which will replace the EU’s CAP, to support Scottish farming and crofting and rural communities.

See also: NFU Scotland seeks funding pledge in landmark bill

The Scottish government previously announced plans for a new four-tier support scheme, which will be introduced in 2027.

Under the plans, Basic Payment Scheme funding will end in 2026 and a new support scheme will be introduced in 2027.

This will see funding split across four tiers with conditionality attached to farmers receiving payments.

Ministers have pledged that at least 70% of funding will be paid to farmers directly in tiers 1 and 2.

Tiers 3 and 4 will be payments for targeted actions for climate and nature restoration, including tree planting, creating wetlands or restoring peatlands. 

Speaking after the landmark bill was passed, rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “Agriculture is vital to our economy.

“Our Vision for Agriculture sets out how the government will support farming and food production in Scotland to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture. 

“Our food and farming sectors have a critical role to play in a sustainable, resilient food system.

“As we transition to a new framework of support, we will do this in a way that is just, that ensures no cliff edges in support and takes our agricultural industry and rural communities with us.”

NFUS approval

NFU Scotland has welcomed the passing of the legislation, which provides for continued direct payments to farmers and support targeted at particular products and sectors, as well as providing support under exceptional market conditions.

Director of policy Jonnie Hall said: “The bill reflects so much of what we have pressed for over the last few years.

“It means we have the tools in place to implement a new agricultural support framework to enable farmers and crofters to deliver the desired outcomes around food production, biodiversity enhancement and climate change mitigation that only they can.

“A profitable, sustainable agricultural industry is key to Scotland’s ambitions and having the powers to deliver the right support is crucial. Powers are one thing; it is how those powers are used that matters most.”

Scottish Greens rural affairs spokesperson Ariane Burgess said the bill will also enable Scottish rural communities and farms to be at the heart of a transition to a greener future.

The bill still requires Royal Assent to become an act. 

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