NFU Scotland say that Scotland’s farmers are being consulted by Scottish Government on a future agricultural policy in an information void.

In a statement it said that despite repeated requests for the Scottish Government to put potential future agricultural support options on the table for consideration as part of the debate on a new Agriculture Bill, discussions on the Bill, which are now now underway, are going forward without all the desired information being made available.

When the proposals for the Bill were launched at the end of August, NFU Scotland was highly critical that the detail that so many farmers needed if they are to plan for and implement change were not part of the consultation process.

It asserts that it has continued to push the Scottish Government to fill that void and put potential eligible support options into the public domain. The Union made that specific request in person when Cabinet Secretary Mairi Gougeon and her officials attended the NFU Scotland board meeting earlier this month (September).

Food production

President Martin Kennedy said: “The Scottish Government consultation on a new Agriculture Bill is a critical step on the road to a new agricultural policy and determining fundamental changes to how farming and crofting will be supported in the future. But farmers and crofters are being asked to discuss these massive issues in an information vacuum.

“It remains hugely frustrating that the Scottish Government, despite several requests from NFU Scotland and other stakeholders has yet to set out any clear options as to how any new powers created by the proposed new Agriculture Bill will put food production at the heart of delivering all the economic, social and environmental benefits that active agricultural businesses will be asked to deliver.

“NFU Scotland has been unequivocal that the new powers must be used to target future direct support at active farming and crofting – both to provide financial stability through post-Brexit turbulence and severe market volatility and to reward actions that improve productivity and build resilience.

“Only with the buy-in of farmers and crofters across Scotland can Scottish Government turn the dry legislation of a new Agriculture Bill into practices that deliver for food, climate and nature, but we need to know now what those options look like.”