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Agribusiness News September 2022 – Policy Briefs

1 September 2022

Scottish Agricultural Bill Update

The next stage in making Scotland a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture has been launched.  A series of online and in-person events to gather the views from stakeholders and members of the public will form the basis of the consultation process.

As the new Agriculture Bill (expected in 2023) 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 consultation covers a range of key themes including:

  • Production of high quality food,
  • Protecting food and health quality,
  • Ensuring a fair income for farmers,
  • Environmental care with powers and other mechanisms to allow future payments to farmers, crofters, and land managers to support 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.

Given the importance of livestock within Scottish agriculture, the consultation process is seeking views on making subsidy payments that establish minimum standards for animal health and welfare.

Proposals to ensure Fair Work conditions, including a real Living Wage are applied to all Scottish agricultural workers are also part of the consultation process as well as looking at financial support for rural development and the rural economy.

As part of the overarching Net Zero targets, the consultation also explores measures to modernise tenant farming to allow tenant farmers to play their part in supporting biodiversity and undertake mitigation and adaptation measures.

The consultation process opened on the 29th of August and closes on the 21st of November.  For further details and access to the online consultation please click here.

Islands Bond

The Scottish Government has announced that following analysis of the responses to the consultation process which ended in October 2021, the proposed Islands Bond will not go ahead.

The Island Bond was proposed under the A Fairer, Greener Scotland Programme for Government 2021/22 could have provided up to £50,000 each for up to 100 households by 2026 to remain in their community, or to encourage people to move there.

While the greater focus on the importance of addressing population decline was welcomed by the islanders, as well as the commitment to work with communities to develop local solutions; the island respondents raised concerns about the proposed approach and whether it would achieve the objective of reversing population decline.

Going forward, the proposal, as part of the National Islands Plan is for the Scottish Government to work in collaboration with island communities to develop an Action Plan to address the issue of depopulation, with a draft publication expected in 2023.

Carbon Audits

Due to very high demand for carbon audits this year, the carbon audit grant of £500 per business is no longer available through the Farm Advisory Service (FAS).  With the increasing focus on improving efficiency and reducing carbon footprints, applications for carbon audits through the FAS increased from just 99 for the whole of 2018 to 484 in the first half of 2022.

Carbon Audits will now be provided solely through the National Test Programme.  Details on how to access new carbon audits can be found here.

Scaling up Nature Restoration

Grants of over £250,000 are available to larger-scale initiatives that restore and protect habitats and species, including freshwater and coastal and marine areas, control invasive non-native species, and reverse the loss of lowland biodiversity in urban areas.

The multi-year Nature Restoration Fund is open to projects that help Scotland’s species, woodlands, rivers, and seas back on the road to recovery.

More information on the Nature Restoration Fund and details on how to apply can be found on the NatureScot website: Nature Restoration Fund – How to Apply | NatureScot

Key Date – Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme application window opens on 1 September 2022.  For more information, click here

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