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The Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill

The Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Government has now unveiled their highly anticipated Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill.

The Bill seeks to provide the basis for reforming current provision of support available to those involved in farming and food production in Scotland. The Bill does so by creating powers enabling Scottish Ministers to amend and repeal existing rules under the current EU-derived Common Agricultural Policy and create new support mechanisms using secondary legislation.

The Bill aims to ensure that future regulations creating the new support scheme furthers many of the key ambitions set out in Scottish Government’s Vision for Agriculture, namely:-

  • The adoption of sustainable, regenerative agricultural policies;
  • The production of high-quality food;
  • On-farm nature restoration, climate mitigation and adaptation; and
  • Enabling rural communities to thrive.

The Bill seeks to place Scottish Ministers under a duty to publish a 5-year Rural Support Plan which must have regard to these ambitions. The Bill attempts to recognise the crucial role that farmers and crofters play, and will continue to play, in delivering climate mitigation, biodiversity and the production of high-quality food.

The Scottish Government intend on using support schemes created under the Bill to incentivise those involved in the agricultural sector to engage with and further their objectives in terms of this. 

Whilst the Bill is still a very long way off from becoming law, based on the current provisions, it is likely that the only way to benefit from the maximum available support will be to demonstrate that sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices are being adopted.

In the future, more and more land owner’s long term strategy will need to factor in these practices. This week we have seen Red Tractor setting their timetable for their Greener Farms Commitment coming in to force and it is likely that other organisations will be following suit.

Before the Bill becomes law, it will undergo scrutiny and amendment by the Scottish Parliament, with the expectation being that it will be in its final form by Summer 2024. A 2–3-year transition period will then begin to allow for changes being made to current support frameworks.

There is a lot of uncertainty just now in the Agricultural sector, but Cameron and the rest of our specialist Land and Rural Business Team are on hand to provide expert legal advice. To speak to a member of the Team, please call 03330 430150.

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About the author

Cameron Mathieson
Cameron Mathieson

Cameron Mathieson


Land & Rural Business

For more information, contact Cameron Mathieson or any member of the Land & Rural Business team on 0131 624 6808.