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Agribusiness News January 2024 – Policy Brief

1 January 2024

Round up of 2023

In March, to protect Scotland’s wildlife, the new Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) 2023 Bill introduced a two dog limit for all uses of dogs in the course of hunting and a ban on the practice of trail hunting.  However, a licencing scheme will be introduced to allow the use of more than two dogs in certain limited circumstances, with licences being limited to 14 days and will be species specific.

From the 18th May, farmers bringing cattle into Scotland from an area with high Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) require a clear pre-movement test within 30 days prior to movement to Scotland.  A new definition for isolation has also been introduced, and compensation has been reduced for cattle which are not properly isolated.

In June, it was announced that Asulam (Asulox) was no longer an approved herbicide due to the risks it poses to the environments and human health.  For AECS 2023 applications, only manual or mechanical control of bracken is permitted.  Payments under the Forestry Grant Scheme for bracken control have been increased from £225 to £275 per hectare to account for the change.

In September, as part of the Scottish Government’s Preparing for Sustainable Farming (PSF) initiative, the new Animal Health and Welfare Scheme, opened for claims. Under the scheme, each business with a BRN and flock/herd number can apply for a payment of £250 per intervention (max 2) plus an additional £250 with the first claim to cover personal development.  Under PSF, funding is also available for carbon audits and soil analysis.

From the 30th September, the Windsor Framework, paved the way for seed potato trading  to resume with Northern Ireland.  However, this is a singular agreement, the trading channels with the EU remain firmly blocked.

From the 1st October, under the amended Home Office Control of Poisons and Explosives Precursors Regulations 2023, all purchasers of ammonium nitrate (AN) fertilisers with a nitrogen content of 16% or more need to provide photographic identification prior to purchase.

Also from 1st October, operators of all existing short term let accommodation must have applied for a Short-Term Lets Licence from their local council.  New hosts need to apply for a licence before they can accept bookings.  The maximum fine for operating without a licence is £2,500.  You do not need a licence if you rent out part of your house under the ‘Rent a Room Scheme’.

New Bills going through Parliament in 2023

Looking into 2024…

The next round of the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) will open for applications in January with the targeted support focusing on the agri-environment, slurry and digestate storage and seeking to double the amount of organic land.

For the 2024 round, funding for heather cutting, chemical and mechanical treatment of bracken, restoring of drystone or flagstone dykes and pond creation and restoration for wildlife (limited to 2,000m2 per application) will be reintroduced.   In addition to which, the option for creation of hedgerows will be increased from 500 metres to 1,000 metres per application.

Up until March 2024, under the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Act, in-tenancy private rent increases will continue to be capped at 3% and enforced evictions will continue to be paused for six months, except in specified circumstances.  Thereafter, a new Housing Bill will be introduced covering minimum housing standards; long-term rent controls for the private rented sector and it will allow tenants greater flexibility to personalise rented homes and to keep pets.

As part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to reducing agricultural emissions by 31% by 2032, the second edition of the Agricultural Reform Route Map sets out the wider land and agricultural change plan for Scotland through to 2032.  From a recent Government announcement, it is expected that details of the funding allocation for Tier 1 and 2 farm payments will be published in February. Further details will be announced during Quarter 1 with regards the Whole Farm Plan, conditionality for BPS and Voluntary Coupled Support in the context of the beef support scheme plus what ‘Elective’ support will be available in 2025.  This will be followed in the second quarter of 2024 with publication of the Payment Strategy for 2025-27 and guidance for BPS, VCS, and other schemes available in 2025.

Given that Preparing for Sustainable Farming grant uptake for Soil Analysis, Animal Health & Welfare and Carbon Audits has been low during 2023, with Government budgets under pressure; it is important to think along the lines of ‘use it or lose it!’.

Christine Beaton,


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