Agricultural transition - first steps towards our national policy: consultation

This consultation provides an overview of the key themes and recommendations emerging from the Farmer Led Group process, setting out a number of key questions to inform wider work on the development of agricultural policy and in particular the replacement to CAP.

Section 1 - Introduction

Following on from the period of simplicity and stability we are moving forward to put in place a successor to the Common Agriculture Policy that will guide farming, food production and land use for many years to come. Our approach will support farmers and crofters to ensure their economic sustainability as we deal with the twin global emergencies of climate change and biodiversity whilst also continuing to produce high quality food. Reforming our approach to land use and management will be core to delivering all the requirements set by Parliament for Scotland's efforts to reach Net Zero.

Whilst change is needed it needs to be fair and equitable and set out in the terms of a Just Transition that ensures a sustainable future for a reformed agriculture sector. It needs to be open to the opportunities to adopt new approach to policies for agriculture and food production and realise our collective desire to ensure Scottish policy, regulatory and funding frameworks will enable investment in rural businesses and rural communities. This will enable them to lower emissions from production, be profitable, efficient and productive whilst playing their part as land managers to tackle climate change and enhance biodiversity.

To help deliver a new successful framework a number of Farmer Led Groups[1], that covered the suckler beef, arable, dairy and pig sectors as well as the hill, upland farming and crofting sectors (including the sheep sector), were established at various points between Spring 2020 and December 2020 to recommend ways farmers and crofters could consider the effects of land use change and cut their emissions to help tackle climate change.

The groups energised debate within farming communities and started the process of engagement in how the industry can adapt to help Scotland deliver on its commitments to being global leader in sustainable farming. Key to their success was bringing together people who have knowledge and expertise to propose practical workable solutions at a sub-sector level, resulting in a series of reports[2][3][4][5][6]and recommendations being submitted to the Government towards the end of the last Parliamentary term.

Each of the Groups followed a broadly similar remit although each identified specific areas of interest to their particular sectors; such as peatland, woodland expansion, and plant and animal health. Full remits of each group and their respective memberships can be found on may be found at

This paper provides an overview of the key themes and recommendations emerging from the Farmer Led Group process. The paper also sets out a number of key questions on the groups recommendations which are intended to inform wider work on the development of agricultural policy and in particular the replacement to CAP.

It forms part of a fully participative model that will gather responses to published papers and through workshops that will be facilitated towards stimulating further ideas over the coming months.

We will then report on this participative model of consultation, to contextualise it towards deliverability, and to seek insight and guidance from the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board" (ARIOB) which will support the Scottish Government to ensure that the future shape of support lives up to our vision, is truly capable of bringing about the change that is needed, and does so in a user-centred way that recognises the need to have a Just Transition towards a Green Economy.

The ARIOB features representation of land based businesses from across Scotland and will gain insight from practitioners in differing farm types and land use. It will also be supported by the expanded Scottish Government Academic Advisory panel that will supply robust evidence to help its progress and ensure that we are able to draw on the best available science, knowledge and expertise and evidence that exists in a rapidly growing evidence base, including through RESAS (Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services ).

This ARIOB will support and inform the development of the Statutory Consultation that we will seek to publish in 2022 and that will set-out our full rationale and proposals for a future Agriculture Bill.



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