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Agribusiness News January 2023 – Policy Brief

22 December 2022

Round up of 2022

Seasonal workers scheme 30,000 cap retained

Last Christmas, to ease the labour crisis caused by Brexit/Covid, the UK Government announced a 3-year extension to the Seasonal Workers Scheme.  While horticultural workers can apply for a 6-month visa, poultry workers are limited to a 3-month visa from the 18th Oct – 31 Dec each year.

New slurry regulations

New regulations around muck and slurry spreading, are to be phased in over the next five years.  The new regulations have been designed, under consultation, to optimise nutrient management on Scottish farms; reduce leakage and pollution from slurry & digestate; and reduce emissions associated with slurry and digestate storage and spreading.

The regulations include the following measures:

  • Splash plate slurry spreaders were phased out 1st January 2022, Broadcast spreading with splash plates are being phased out in preference of precision spreading equipment e.g. trailing shoes and dribble bars;
  • Farms must have slurry storage for at least 22 weeks for cattle and 26 weeks for pigs, and;
  • Tightened restrictions on the distance of silage bales, bulk bags, silos, slurry or digestate storage from water, and construction standards.

Red diesel regulations changed

On the 1st April, the DVLA’s rules for use of red diesel changed.  Red diesel must now only be used for an approved agricultural purpose, and the vehicle must be registered as an agricultural vehicle and allowed to use red diesel.

SACGS focused on reducing ammonia emissions

On the 26th  April, the Sustainable Agriculture Capital Grant scheme opened for just 6 weeks.  This year’s max £20,000 grant scheme focused specifically on low emission slurry spreading equipment and slurry store covers.  The final date for claims is midnight on the 28th February 2023.

Planning for Net Zero

In December, in order to help combat climate change and restore nature, the Scottish Government have published a revised draft National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) which sets out sustainable policies against which planning applications would be assessed for the next decade.

Preparing for Sustainable Farming

Under the Scottish Government’s National Test Programme (NTP): Track 1 – Preparing for Sustainable Farming (PSF) businesses with an online Rural Payments and Services (RPS) account can apply for funding up to £500 for a carbon audit and up to £30 per hectare for soil testing (up to 20% of their Region 1 land in one year) for pH, phosphate, potash, and carbon.   A minimal soil sampling allowance of £300 – for small businesses with region 1 land.

Short Term Lets Licensing Scheme

From October 2022, new hosts must apply for a licence and all existing short term let hosts must have applied for a licence by 1st April 2023.  For further guidance, click here.

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) Update

Following the announcement of the UK wide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone across Great Britain.  Keepers of all birds (including pet birds) are advised to familiarise themselves with the avian flu advice at and report suspicion of disease to your local APHA Field Services Office.

Looking into 2023…

New Land Reform Bill

The Scottish New Land Reform Bill expected to be introduced by the end of 2023.  Proposed measures include the introduction of a public interest test for transfers of large-scale landholdings; land ownership to be registered on the Land Register if the business is claiming support payments, and a requirement on owners of large-scale holdings to give prior notice to community bodies of their intention to sell.

Scottish Agricultural Bill

The new Agriculture Bill will underpin Scotland’s Future Agriculture Support Regime from 2025 onwards and will focus on the Scottish Government’s commitment to reducing agricultural emissions by 31% by 2032.

The Bill is expected to focus on protecting food and health quality, ensuring a fair income for farmers, supporting delivery of national climate change adaptation objectives, nature restoration and protecting biodiversity, fostering knowledge and innovation, and developing resilient and vibrant rural areas and island communities.

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