Section B: Delivery of Key Outcomes
Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation
The consultation paper discussed a number of proposals relating to climate change adaptation and mitigation objectives including:
- Powers and other mechanisms to allow future payments to farmers, crofters and land managers to support delivery of national climate change mitigation and adaptation objectives,
- A mechanism to enable payments to be made that are conditional on outcomes that deliver climate mitigation and adaptation measures, along with targeted elective payments,
- A mechanism to enable payments to be made that support integrated land management.
Climate change and adaptation measures
Tables 10-11 (Appendix 3) provide the frequency tables to questions on climate change adaption and mitigation questions.
The majority of respondents to these questions agreed that the Bill should include measures to support climate change mitigation (77%) and adaptation objectives (76%). Organisational respondents were more likely to agree than individual respondents.
Open responses to these questions focused on the need for support to allow for the delivery of climate objectives, for example providing grants to aid with the cost of replacing machinery.
Others noted their dissatisfaction at what they felt was an over-emphasis on climate change and not enough emphasis on high quality food production which they felt should be the priority. There was also a sense among a number of responses that agriculture was unfairly scapegoated on this issue and that many in the sector were already doing work in this space.
Questions were raised in relation to the detail around the specifics of funding and whether these would complicate payment structures. Another view was that it was sensible that future payments supported climate change mitigation and adaptation given the need to meet statutory targets but that the approach to support payments had to have proper governance and structure so that support could be provided in a timely manner that did not stagnate farming or crofting activity.
There was an argument among some responses that payments should be used to incentivise climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, though there was caution with some responses highlighting the need to ensure that perverse incentives were not introduced which would impact negatively on some landowners.
Another concern raised was in relation to the range of powers in the consultation in terms of the balance of land use and feared the risk of good agricultural land being lost to meet these objectives. Another view raised was that farm profitability was key to the ability to deliver outcomes in this area and therefore the primary responsibility was food production which meant the balance of funding had to be carefully considered.
Many respondents felt that the proposals did not offer sufficient detail for them to take a view beyond their view regarding these payments in principle.
Conditional payments based on outcomes and support for integrated land management
Tables 12-13 (Appendix 3) provide the frequency tables to Questions C and D of the climate change adaptation and mitigation questions.
The majority of respondents (individuals and organisations) agreed that the Bill should include a mechanism to enable payments to be made that are conditional on outcomes that support climate mitigation and adaptation measures (66%), along with targeted elective payment, though individuals were less likely to agree (54%) than organisations (82%).
Similarly, a majority of respondents agreed that the Bill should include measures that support integrated land management (72%), though individuals were less likely to agree (64%) than organisations (83%).
Among those who supported conditionality based on outcomes there was a sense that the current regime is a poor use of public money because low conditionality means there is a weak link between the payment of public money to farmers and delivering government objectives in the public interest. Therefore, increasing greater conditionality would improve this.
Another view raised was in relation to up-front conditional payments and finding the right balance between outcome focused conditional payments and up-front payments which would allow landowners to make required changes to achieve outcomes.
“The environment and reliance to climate change can ONLY be achieved within the context of social economic resilience and growth. Denying funds because some arbitrary criteria hasn't been satisfied will be totally counter productive.” [Individual]
There was also a sense that the consultation document lacked detail and questions were raised with regards to how such outcomes would be evaluated and by whom.
“Agree in principle, however, considering the ongoing evolution of science in this area, monitoring techniques as well as our understanding of climate mitigation outcomes arising from changing practices, it will be important for a robust system with clearly achievable outcomes and reliable monitoring approaches to be developed and implemented to ensure transparency.” [Organisation, Third Sector]
Nature Protection and Restoration
The consultation paper discussed several proposals relating to nature protection including:
- Powers and mechanisms to protect and restore biodiversity, support clean and healthy air, water, and soils, contribute to flood risk management locally and downstream and create thriving, resilient nature.
- A mechanism to enable payments that are conditional on outcomes that deliver nature restoration, maintenance, and enhancement, along with targeted elective payments.
- A mechanism to enable and support action on a catchment or landscape scale.
Tables 14-16 (Appendix 3) provide the frequency tables to questions on nature protection and restoration. Below is a summary of results among those who responded to these questions:
- 86% of respondents believe that the new Agriculture Bill should include a mechanism to protect and restore biodiversity, support clean and healthy air, water and soils, contribute to reducing flood risk locally and downstream and create thriving, resilient nature, while 9% do not.
- 80% of respondents believe the new Agriculture Bill should include a mechanism to enable payments that are conditional on outcomes that support nature maintenance and restoration, along with targeted elective payments, while 8% do not.
- 70% of respondents believe that the new Agriculture Bill should include a mechanism to enable landscape/catchment scale payments to support nature maintenance and restoration, while 10% do not. Support was higher among organisation respondents (84%) than individuals (59%).
Mechanism to protect and restore biodiversity, support clean and healthy air, water and soils, contribute to reducing flood risk locally and downstream and create thriving, resilient nature
Some responses questioned the premise of the question and argued that Scotland was already very biodiverse and that this needed protection and encouragement as opposed to restoration.
One view arguing against such a mechanism was that what we have in terms of biodiversity should be enhanced and farmers should have recognition for what they are doing already and have further support. More specific targets should be funded through tiers 3 and 4.
“the Bill should have a mechanism to protect and restore biodiversity, clean and healthy air, water and soils.
What we have in terms of biodiversity should be enhanced and farmers should have recognition for what they are doing already and have further support through tier 2. More specific targets should be funded through tiers 3 and 4” [Organisation, Farmer-Owner Occupied]
Another view raised was that the main purpose of the Agriculture Bill should be support food production and farm businesses in Scotland.
The Bill should then recognise measures that farmers are already taking to boost biodiversity and allow for farmers to build on and expand on existing schemes. It was argued that at the moment, once a scheme is over, the farmer no longer has access to financial support and if the environmental support was to diversify away from agriculture there may not be schemes to continue paying for positive land management. Therefore, the Agriculture Bill should recognise positive work that has already happened on farms and measures that are already in place. Those farmers who have put thought, time, and resources into this element of the land management aspect of their farms are penalised as they have less scope for new schemes.
Positive responses in relation to this mechanism argued that it was vital in the face of a perceived nature and climate emergency. Some argued that this goal has to be one of the primary justifications for government intervention in farming, securing the provision of public goods that would otherwise not be provided or be under-provided and the government has a key role to perform in protecting the public interest in a healthy environment.
There were also arguments that farming practices have resulted in environmental decline with a loss of biodiversity and now that the government has recognised the nature emergency it must focus public expenditure on nature restoration so that Scotland can become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.
“the budget should be allocated to ensure that the outcomes of restoring nature and reducing emissions are achieved.
There is some disquiet about the apparent lack of focus on food production in the government’s consultation (which we do not agree with). We believe it is important to note that an increased emphasis on nature and climate does not inevitably mean a reduced focus on food. Food production needs a healthy environment.” [Organisation, Community Representative]
Others argued that such a mechanism should be provided for so long as it was science based, only introduced after full consultation and subject to rolling evaluation and review. Again, some respondents felt that there was insufficient detail in the consultation itself for them to provide a detailed comment.
Mechanism to enable payments that are conditional on outcomes that deliver nature restoration
Many of the themes in relation to the powers and mechanism to protect and restore biodiversity were repeated in this question. Similar concerns in relation to the conditionality of payments stated for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures were also raised, namely support for conditionality based on outcomes, payments for attempts, questions over how outcomes would be evaluated and some calls for up-front conditional payments to allow land owners to make changes progressing towards desired outcomes.
Mechanism to enable landscape/catchment scale payments to support nature maintenance and restoration
It was argued that land management at scale can deliver huge benefits for nature restoration as it enables complimentary work to be carried out to create and enable the full benefits of integrated land management.
Furthermore, it was perceived that collaborative and integrated land management is going to be an essential part of the solution to the climate and biodiversity crisis. The scale of the challenge to reverse biodiversity decline was perceived to be so big that it can only be achieved by working together and addressing biodiversity loss at an appropriate and ecologically meaningful scale.
However, it was argued that to date support schemes have proven to be extremely complex when working across landholdings and management systems, which has stifled this approach. This was argued as a reason against by some with a preference for lots of small projects accumulating to have a wider impact.
“I feel that the accumulation of lots of little good projects can provide good benefits and is the most effective way.
When you deal on a landscape scale things can get bogged down with too many chefs.” [Individual, Other]
Another view raised was that such a proposal was giving money out to people and organisations who did not need it to make changes and did not necessarily support food production.
It was noted that accurate spatial data was of critical importance for landscape scale approaches. Knowing the extent, condition and wherever possible ownership of land was seen as vital.
“Accurate spatial data would help rural land managers and farmers to think differently about their land, avoid the piece-meal approaches to habitat restoration and enhancement seen in the past, and ultimately to benefit from the conditionality built into the new Agriculture Bill on a landscape scale.” [Organisation, Public Sector]
High Quality Food Production
The consultation paper discussed several proposals relating to high quality food production, including:
- Giving Scottish Government Ministers powers to make changes on rules related to food
- Continuing to provide current support regarding food
- Giving new powers to support the agri-food sector, including a mechanism to enable payments which help deliver food production and, where appropriate, to provide grants to support both the agri-food sector and to bodies related to the agri-food sector
- Giving reserve powers to support the agri-food sector, including powers to declare when there are exceptional or unforeseen conditions adversely affecting food production or distribution, and the ability to provide financial assistance, if necessary, to the agri-food sector and related bodies affected by such conditions
Rules related to food, provision of support and payments
Tables 17-20 (Appendix 3) provide the frequency tables to questions on high quality food production. Below is a summary of results among those who responded to these questions:
- 70% of respondents agreed that the powers in the Agriculture and Retained EU Law and Data (Scotland) Act 2020 should be extended to ensure Scottish Ministers have flexibility to better respond to current, post exit, circumstances in common market organisation and easily make changes to rules on food, while 8% disagreed.
- 69% of respondents agreed that Scottish Ministers should have powers to begin, conclude, or modify schemes or other support relevant to the agricultural markets, while 10% disagreed.
- 79% of respondents agreed that the new Agriculture Bill should include a mechanism to enable payments that support high quality food production, while 6% disagreed.
- 79% of respondents agreed that the new Agriculture Bill should include a mechanism to provide grants to support industry in the agri-food supply chain to encourage sustainability, efficiency, co-operation, industry development, education, processing and marketing in the agri food sector. 8% disagreed.
Open responses to these questions remarked that giving Scottish Government Ministers powers to make changes on rules would be imperative in a landscape of considerable policy change and global uncertainty. For instance, respondents pointed out that some elements of climate change are unpredictable, and its potential impact on food should be prepared for as well as possible.
It was suggested that all known and considered potential eventualities be addressed through primary legislation, onto which secondary legislation can be attached. Given that the creation of primary legislation is a lengthy process, it was considered sensible that the current opportunity to add powers for flexibility be maximised:
“No system that is fixed and rigid for too long a timescale is going to be fit for purpose in the future. We live in such a rapidly changing world that this kind of flexibility makes sense” [Individual, Other]
Several respondents felt that Scottish agriculture is inherently different in its nature and make-up to that of other parts of the UK, and thus agreed that Scottish Ministers should be able to take these differences into account when legislating for Scottish agriculture.
However, others said they lacked confidence in the ability of Ministers to make appropriate, sustainable changes to rules on food, and expressed especial concerns around the impact of Ministerial changeover and the subsequent potential for short-sighted modifications:
“Agree, however safeguards are required to ensure that the exercise of these powers is evidence-based and that this evidence is open to scrutiny. Ministers lines of accountability to Parliament must be explicit” [Individual, Other]
Some were of the view that Government response to and/or intervention in the large and complex food market can be misguided or untimely. Thus, many felt that expert farmer groups, environmental NGOs [Non-Governmental Organisations] and members of the public should first be consulted on major reforms before Scottish Government Ministers make final decisions.
Many respondents pointed out that high quality food production is inevitably more costly and support is therefore more likely to be needed, at least, for instance, in the setup stage of such food production companies. A mechanism to provide grants to support the agri-food sector was similarly welcomed.
Transparency around the amount and purpose of any such payments was important to respondents, who felt this was crucial in understanding the benefits of using public funds for public good.
Exceptional or unforeseen conditions
Tables 21-22 (Appendix 3) provide the frequency tables to questions on exceptional or unforeseen conditions. Below is a summary of results among those who responded to these questions:
- 78% of respondents believe the new Agriculture Bill should include powers for Scottish Ministers to declare when there are exceptional or unforeseen conditions affecting food production or distribution, compared to 7% who don’t.
- 71% of respondents believe the new Agriculture Bill should include powers for Scottish Ministers to provide financial assistance to the agri-food sector and related bodies whose incomes are being, ore are likely to be, adversely affected by the exceptional or unforeseen conditions described in the declaration referred to in the consultation, while 7% do not.
Many respondents felt it made sense for the new Agricultural Bill to include powers for Scottish Ministers to declare when there are exceptional or unforeseen conditions affecting food production or distribution. They believed that these powers should also include an ability to take action and make swift interventions to address such conditions, and that Scottish Ministers may need to do this in coordination with UK counterparts.
Some respondents cautiously agreed with this proposal, with a caveat that 'unforeseen' circumstances must be clearly defined within a framework in the Bill, and reserved for genuinely exceptional or unforeseen conditions.
Powers for Scottish Ministers to provide financial assistance to the agri-food sector and related bodies whose incomes are adversely affected by such exceptional or unforeseen conditions were seen as an important in underpinning the future viability of specific sectors affected by market failure, environmental-related factors, or supply chain disruption caused by events likes pandemics or wars.
Others felt that it would also enable farmers and others in the agri-food sector to continue operations in the face of unforeseen disruption, and ensure that animal welfare (and other) standards do not suffer as a result of any lost income.
Some respondents were unsure as to whether such powers warranted specific inclusion in the new Agriculture Bill. Others argued that the root causes of any exceptional or unforeseen conditions ought to be addressed first, where possible.
Processing and sharing of information
Around two-thirds (67%) of respondents agreed that the new Agriculture Bill should include the powers to process and share information with the agri-food sector and supply chains to enable them to improve business efficiency, while 11% disagreed.
Those who agreed that the new Agriculture Bill should include the powers to process and share information with the agri-food sector and supply chains to enable them to improve business efficiency believed that this could be positive in encouraging collaboration and a co-operative approach.
Data sharing was also considered important where it improves traceability and transparency of production and identifies where work needs to be done to meet Sustainable Development Goals.
However, other respondents felt that such powers were unnecessary and felt that Government does not need access to such information don't need access to this type of information:
“Business already shares information for the benefit of providing affordable quality food to where it is needed. Government has no role in taking whatever information it deems fit, packaging it up and releasing it. This would be a waste of taxpayers money and by time the information was processed it would already be months out of date” [Individual, Other]
Wider Rural Development
The consultation document proposes giving Scottish Ministers powers to support land managers and communities’ activities in:
- Rural development and the rural economy generally
- Community led-local development
- Collaboration and innovation
- Influence policy development
- Public access and understanding land use.
Support for proposals
Tables 24-25 (Appendix 3) provide the frequency tables to questions on wider rural development. Below is a summary of results among those who responded to these questions:
- 73% of respondents agreed that the proposals on Wider Rural Development outlined above should be included in the new Agriculture Bill, while 17% disagreed.
- 52% of respondents think there are other areas relating to non-agricultural land management such as forestry that they would like to be considered for support under the Agriculture Bill to help deliver integrated land management and the products produced from it.
- Organisational respondents were more likely to support these proposals than individual respondents.
The first question in this section asked about support for the above provisions to be included in the Agriculture Bill. The open responses to this question were mixed, with more nuance in answers than shown in the statistical breakdown above and many answers being neither entirely positive nor entirely negative.
Many respondents argued that the wider rural development proposals should not be the focus of the Agriculture Bill and should not divert resources and funding from agriculture.
Those in favour of the inclusion of wider development policies often focused on sustainability and the symbiotic relationship between rural communities and agriculture as justification:
“Rural development is fundamental to the sustainability of rural and island communities, including the Agricultural sector. Communities need to be socially attractive, vibrant and inclusive to those who live and work there as many crofters and farmers are also heavily involved in other aspects of their communities. This not only supports other sectors but also the wellbeing of individuals and contribute to the economic stability of the fragile rural communities” [Organisation, Other]
However, it should be noted that a few respondents expressed tentative support for wider rural development as they felt insufficient detail was provided in the consultation document on what this entails and that the section of the document currently presents as a “repository for activities that do not fit neatly into other sections of the document which completely dilutes its potential” [Organisation, Third sector (including charities)]
Regarding the specific proposals made, many responses focused on the community led local development aspect, with the majority of respondents in favour of this approach. These favourable evaluations are often connected to the legacy of the LEADER programme. Additionally, several responses cited other European Union initiatives favourably, while the Forestry Grant Scheme was labelled a failure by a few respondents.
However, concerns exist regarding the practicalities of ensuring agreement among community members and regarding the longevity of CLLD (Community Led Local Development):
‘The absence of an indication of how the current CLLD (Community Led Local Development) programme will be supported on an ongoing basis through the Bill is, in our view, also an omission.’ [Organisation, Public Sector]
Other less prevalent themes of note included support for public access in principle accompanied calls to ensure these powers are used responsibly and distrust about how and to whom funds for wider rural development would be directed.
This section also covered whether or not other areas relating to non-agricultural land management such as forestry should be considered. Open responses were heavily influenced by the inclusion of forestry as an example of non-agricultural land management. Most responses commented on whether they believe forestry should be included in the Bill.
Responses opposing the inclusion of non-agricultural activities tended to focus on the fact that this is out of the scope of the Agriculture Bill.
Many responses also expressed opposition to commercial forestry as not benefiting local communities, wasting arable land that could be used for food production, and damaging biodiversity:
“Forestry should be excluded. Forestry is now done by contractors who do not sustain rural communities” [Farmer, Owner Occupied]
Responses supporting the inclusion of forestry argued that forestry has climate benefits and that agriculture and forestry should not be viewed as mutually exclusive. In this spirit, several respondents suggested the inclusion of agroforestry in the Bill as an alternative to commercial forestry:
“Forestry and woodland creation offers significant opportunity for carbon sequestration and in many cases tree planting can be complimentary to agricultural production. Agroforestry systems, riparian planting, hedgerow creation and management can all sequester Carbon, provide a habitat for biodiversity, reduce diffuse pollution risk while allowing farming to continue.” [Organisation, Public Sector]
Several other suggestions for non-agricultural activities to be supported by the Bill were provided by respondents, although none received the same level of support as agroforestry, including: promoting biodiversity, tourism/agri-tourism, heritage land, waterways and reservoir management, renewable energy, peatland restoration, flood mitigation, recreation, rural community development, rewilding, and crofting diversification.
Powers required to enable rural development and their impacts
The remaining questions in this section covered what other powers may be required to enable rural development, and what potential impacts such powers would have on Scotland’s rural and island communities. Responses to these questions covered similar themes.
A lack of affordable housing was cited as a key issue in rural areas by many respondents. Several suggested restrictions on holiday lets and second homes to reduce the number of homes left empty for considerable portions of the year.
The need for improved ferry services and public transport in rural areas was highlighted by several responses. The need for these services was often connected to reducing emissions and increasing communication/connectivity between rural and urban areas to create more opportunities, particularly for young people.
“Affordable accommodation is as much an issue in rural areas as it is in urban ones, and must be addressed if we are to have thriving rural communities [...] We would also like to see improved internet and transport links for rural communities.” [Organisation, Third Sector (including charities)]
Current planning permission procedures were described as barriers to development in various responses. Suggestions are made to make these procedures less ‘onerous’ to allow for more housing and businesses to be built.
Several calls were made to reform land ownership, under this theme there were various policy suggestions made such as limiting the amount of land an individual can own in Scotland, increasing transparency regarding who owns what land, and community ownership of land, and rules around croft ownership.
“A limit to the amount of land any individual can control or own. A more diverse pattern of land ownership needs to be quickly achieved [...]” [Farmer – tenant (including seasonal lets]
Additionally, further investment in education, broadband, and supplementing wages were mentioned by some respondents.
The perceived impacts of changes of this sort included increased housing and land availability, increas ed job opportunities, strengthened communities, better food quality and security, and reduced costs to living rurally.
Animal Health and Welfare
The consultation proposed 3 additional powers in the area of animal health and welfare:
1) to establish standards for animal health, welfare, and biosecurity as a condition for receiving payments
2) to make payments to support improvements in animal health, welfare, and biosecurity beyond legal minimum standards
3) to collect and share livestock health, welfare and biosecurity data.
Tables 26-28 (Appendix 3) provide the frequency tables to questions on animal health and welfare. Below is a summary of results among those who responded to these questions:
- 74% of respondents agreed that the new Agriculture Bill should include powers to establish minimum standards for animal health and welfare as a condition of receiving payments, while 18% disagreed.
- 75% of respondents agreed that the new Agriculture Bill should include powers to make payments to support improvements in animal health, welfare and biosecurity beyond legal minimum standards, while 13% disagreed.
- 68% of respondents agreed that the new Agriculture Bill should include powers to collect and share livestock health, welfare and biosecurity data, while 12% disagreed.
There was a broad recognition of the importance of high standards for animal health and welfare as promoting best practice in Scotland to compete with imports, improving business efficiency as a by-product, and being morally desirable.
There was concern that these proposals could result in a duplication of efforts. In general, several respondents argued that current welfare standards in Scotland are very high and covered by Assurance schemes, so there is no need to duplicate efforts/create a problem that doesn’t exist.
“Farmers and Crofters already meet a high standard of animal welfare under current regulations. It seems illogical to establish something that is already accepted as a high industry standard globally just to potentially create pitfalls.” [Individual, Farmer – tenant (including seasonal lets)]
Additionally many argued that livestock data is already collected, and that many farmers are exceeding requirements already without financial assistance to do so, and there is no need to provide additional funding. The establishment of powers to establish standards as a condition for payment was called into question with the argument that the assumption has to be that existing legal requirements are met and that these are enforced via existing legislation. The role of certain organisations in enforcement under these new proposals was also raised as a concern that would require more detail.
However, some respondents argued that current minimum standards are entirely insufficient, justifying the inclusion of new standards in the Bill.
“These standards should be far higher than they are currently. For example, "free range" chickens should be a minimum standard rather than a choice.” [Individual, Farmworker (employee)]
Following on from this, some respondents called for more punitive approaches to animal health and welfare, suggesting penalties such as fines for not meeting high standards or participating in livestock data collection.
Concerns were also raised about additional bureaucracy the suggestions made in the consultation paper would involve.
Finally, across all question on animal health and welfare, there were calls for more detail to be provided on the proposals, such as what minimum standards would be, how much livestock data will need to be collected, and who would have access to it.
Beyond these overarching themes, various suggestions were made about where funding to support animal welfare could be directed, including towards membership of high welfare schemes, promoting organic certification, implementation, maintenance, etc.
“This allows farmers to be rewarded for good practice, and achieves public goods of higher health, welfare and biosecurity/public health via the use of public funds.” [Organisation, Third Sector (including charities)]
Additionally, various possible applications for livestock data were mentioned, including disease control, benchmarking, enforcement, etc.
“Currently the potential of this data (e.g. animal movements, medicine records, production and health data) to drive improvements in Scottish Agriculture has not been realized due to lack of standardized data recording across the industry.” [Organisation, Third Sector (including charities)]
Plant Genetic Resources and Plant Health
Given the recognised value of plants for the economy and society, and the threat posed to plants by pests and diseases, the consultation document proposed the provision of powers:
1) To support the conservation of Plant Genetic Resources, including plants developed and grown for agricultural, horticultural and forestry purposes and their wild relatives.
2) To support in the protection and improvement of plant health, for example through support for measures to control the spread of plant pests and diseases or to increase resilience to outbreaks
Tables 29-30 (Appendix 3) provide the frequency tables to questions on plant genetic resources and health. Below is a summary of results among those who responded to these questions:
- 85% of respondents agreed that Scottish Ministers should have powers to provide support for the conservation of Plant Genetic Resources, including plants developed and grown for agricultural, horticultural or forestry purposes and their wild relatives, while 3% disagreed.
- 81% of respondents agreed that Scottish Ministers should have the power to provide support to protect and improve plant health while 4% disagreed.
There is support for the conservation of existing genetic material on the basis that maintaining crop diversity and resilience will be important for ensuring food security.
“The ability to create new or improved varieties which are better able to offer natural resistance to pests, diseases or drought etc will help create climate resistant crops and reduce reliance on pesticides.” [Organisation, Public Sector Organisation]
Several respondents’ support government involvement came from the core sentiment that Scotland’s plants and their health are important for the public and Scotland’s future at large, and therefore ministers should have a role in ensuring they are harnessed in the public’s interest. A wide variety of suggestions for government action in the realm of Plant Genetic Resources and Plant Health were raised, including:
- Protecting plants from imported disease
- Preventing the spread of tree pests and diseases
- Support agroecological, organic and evolutionary plant breeding
- Raise public awareness of pests and diseases
- Regulation of plant breeding techniques
- Support for Integrated Pest Management
- Encourage community investment in local plants
However, there were concerns raised about ministerial knowledge. Given the complex nature of this topic, concerns were raised as to whether or not ministers would understand the science in sufficient detail to successfully direct support to protect and improve plant health. Related concerns demonstrated a general lack of faith in politicians, with concerns about abuse of this scheme through lobbying/political manoeuvring.
Although the topic wasn’t explicitly consulted on, respondents expressed strong views both in favour of and in opposition to genetic modification.
As stated in previous sections, several respondents felt that they could not support this proposition as they believe this work is already being conducted or do not feel the propositions are detailed enough to comment on. A small group of respondents found these propositions to be out of the scope of the Agriculture Bill.
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