Open letter to the Scottish Government on the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill

General News

Scottish Land & Estates has written a joint letter to Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, calling on the Scottish Government to add a purpose clause to the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill to provide a clear indication to the sector that any secondary legislation will be written with clear principles in mind and to show the agricultural sector a clear direction of travel for future policy. The letter was co-signed by SLE, Scottish Environment LINK, Soil Association Scotland, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust Scotland, Nature Friendly Farming Network Scotland and Rare Breeds Survival Trust Scotland.

Letter to Mr Ewing:

Dear Cabinet Secretary, 

The Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill provides the Scottish Government with an opportunity to show the agricultural sector a clear direction of travel for future policy. We support the principles and intention of this Bill but feel that the Scottish Government should go further by introducing a purpose clause to clearly show the sector that any secondary legislation will be written with clear principles in mind. 

The purpose clauses tabled for Stage 2 of the debate were heavily influenced by the January 10th 2019 motion S5M15279: “That the Parliament acknowledges that future policy for Scotland’s rural economy should be founded on key principles, including sustainability, simplicity, innovation, inclusion, productivity and profitability; recognises that it should seek to maintain flourishing communities, enable farmers and crofters to continue to deliver high-quality goods and services through food production and stewardship of the countryside and Scotland’s natural assets, and encourage diverse land use...”. This motion also called for the creation of the Farming and Food Production Future Policy Group. 

The new Farming and Food Production Future Policy Group was broadly welcomed and output from the group was identified as a clear point when the sector would understand more about the government’s intention for future policy as proposed by a select group of industry representatives. The group’s final report would have been a welcome addition for Stage 3 consideration but whilst we await their recommendations, we still feel the principles behind the group’s formation could be included in this Bill.

We therefore call on Scottish Government to support the introduction of a purpose clause in the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill to ensure secondary legislation from this Bill has a clear direction:

  • Enabling agricultural activity in Scotland to play its role in meeting Scotland’s Net-Zero target and increasing the sector’s resilience to climate change
  • Encouraging innovation, productivity, profitability, and resilience in agriculture
  • Encouraging inclusion and diversity within agriculture and improving working conditions in the sector 
  • Improving and safeguarding Scotland’s natural capital through maintaining, restoring and enhancing biodiversity and landscapes, as called for in the Green Recovery 
  • Delivering flourishing rural communities and improving food security for healthy sustainable diets
  • Facilitating local supply chains, increasing procurement of Scottish produce and encouraging collaborative working.

Clearly showing the agriculture sector where the Scottish Government’s ambition lies would provide much needed clarity and confidence as rural businesses begin to operate in a post-Brexit and post-Covid environment. The sector needs the confidence to target investments and plan appropriately, this can only be delivered with clear signals from the Scottish Government. Stability for a short period of time is necessary but the only value it brings is if the sector knows what lies beyond it and can begin preparing now. 

Yours Sincerely,
Sarah-Jane Laing - Chief Executive, Scottish Land & Estates 
Pete Ritchie - Convener of Scottish Environment LINK’s Food and Farming Group 
Michael Clarke - Chair of the Scotland Nature Friendly Farming Network 
Aoife Behan - Director, Soil Association Scotland
David Noble - Chairman, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust Scotland
Martin Beard - Rare Breed Survival Trust Scotland 

Download the letter here.