Agriculture Bill: consultation analysis

An independent analysis of the responses to the consultation on proposals for a new Agriculture Bill, “Delivering our Vision for Scottish Agriculture. Proposals for a new Agriculture Bill”, which was open from 29 August until 5 December 2022.


This report presents independent analysis of responses to the Consultation on a new Agriculture Bill.[3] The consultation ran from 29th August to 5th December 2022.


The consultation sought views on proposals which aim to deliver the Scottish Government’s Vision for Agriculture which was published in March 2022.[4]

As the Scottish Government stated in the consultation document, the proposals for the new Agriculture Bill aim to provide an adaptive framework to respond to future social, economic, and environmental changes, challenges and opportunities. The consultation sought views on the proposals and powers that the Scottish Ministers require to make this vision become a reality.

The new Agriculture Bill aims to enable flexibility while ensuring that Scotland’s people can live and work sustainably on land and aims to deliver the following key outcomes:

  • high quality food production,
  • climate mitigation and adaptation,
  • nature restoration; and
  • wider rural development.

The consultation questions covered the following:

  • Future Payment Framework.
  • Delivery of Key Outcomes:
    • Climate change adaptation and mitigation
    • Nature protection and restoration
    • High quality food production
    • Wider rural development
    • Animal health and welfare
    • Plant genetic resources and plant health
  • Skills, Knowledge Transfer and Innovation
  • Administration, Control, and Transparency of Payment Framework Data
  • Modernising Agricultural Tenancies
  • Scottish Agricultural Wages.

The Consultation

The Scottish Government promoted an online public consultation with most of the survey responses submitted through the Citizen Space online portal. The remainder were submitted to the Scottish Government directly, for example, by email. Where this was the case, the Scottish Government passed all correspondence directly to the Diffley Partnership for review and logging.

Diffley Partnership exported consultation responses from Citizen Space into Microsoft Excel and manually added non-Citizen Space responses for data cleaning, review, and analysis.

A total of 392 valid responses were received (i.e. excluding duplicate or blank responses). A majority of which were submitted by individuals (57%), Table 1.

Table 1: Profile of respondents
Respondent Number %
Individual 225 57%
Organisation 167 43%

Respondents were invited to give their occupation; Table 2 below summarises respondents by occupation based on their own answers, this is only available for responses submitted via Citizen Space.[5]

Table 2: Occupation of respondents (Citizen Space responses only)
Occupation Number
Community representative 7
Crofters 21
Environment sector 17
Farmer - owner occupied 68
Farmworker (employee) 4
Farmer – tenant (including seasonal lets) 19
Forestry sector 1
Land manager 9
Landowner 6
Public Sector 14
Third sector (including charities) 46
Other 47

In addition to being able to respond via the consultation, the Scottish Government hosted 9 in-person workshops and 5 online workshops. Details of the locations and dates for these workshops can be found in Appendix 1.

Approximately 300 people attended the in-person consultation events. further 285 attended the online events.[6] Farmers were by far the most represented group, at just under two thirds of participants. Most events were attended by NFUS representatives, and around half of the events had representation from the local council. Among other attendees were land managers, journalists, consultants, agri-advisors and students.

Aim of this Report

This report presents a robust analysis of the material submitted in response to the consultation. The structure of the report follows the structure of the consultation paper and considers the response to each consultation question in turn.

Appendices 1-4 provide further detail about the consultation questions, the responses, the respondents, and the views expressed.

Appendix 2 contains a link to the full list of consultation questions. The consultation documents are available on the Scottish Government’s consultation hub.

Appendix 5 provides a summary overview of campaign responses to the consultation.

Approach to the Analysis

The analysis sought to identify the most common themes and issues that arose. The report does not report on every single point raised in the consultation responses. All responses, where the respondent gave permission for their comments to be published, are available on the Citizen Space website.[7]

Some respondents made comments in relation to a question without ticking a response at the relevant closed question. If the respondent’s reply to the closed question could be inferred from their written comments (for example, if their comments began with the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or if their comments clearly indicated that they agreed or disagreed with a certain proposal), analysts replaced the missing data for the tick-box question with the implied response - i.e., the response was imputed.

Comments made in response to each question were analysed qualitatively. The aim was to identify the main themes and the range of views expressed in relation to each question and highlight clear differences by respondent type where this was applicable.

Equal weighting was given to all responses. This included the full spectrum of views, from large organisations with a national or UK remit or membership, to individuals’ viewpoints.

This analysis report quotes and paraphrases some of the comments received in order to illustrate key points and themes. However, this should not be taken as an indication that these comments will be acted upon or given greater credence than others in taking the policy proposals forward.

Comment on the Generalisability of the Consultation Findings

As with all consultations, the views submitted to this consultation should not be considered as representative of the views of the wider public. Anyone can submit their views to a consultation, and individuals (and organisations) who have a keen interest in a topic - and the capacity to respond - are more likely to participate in a consultation than those who do not. This self-selection means that the views of consultation participants cannot be generalised to the wider population. For this reason, the main focus in analysing consultation responses is not to identify how many people held particular views, but rather to understand the range of views expressed and the reasons for these views.



Back to top