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.

Section F: Scottish Agricultural Wages (Fair Work)


The consultation paper proposed that Fair Work practices, including the real Living Wage, are applied to all Scottish agricultural workers. As the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board (SAWB) currently set the minimum agricultural wage for the industry, respondents were asked to consider if the SAWB should set the minimum Agricultural Wage to be at least the real Living Wage.


The majority (68%) of respondents to this question agreed that Fair Work conditions, including the real Living Wage, should be applied to all Scottish agricultural workers, while 10% disagreed. Agreement was higher among individual respondents (71%) than organisational respondents (62%).

Responses in favour of the real living wage made the argument that to pay these wages would be fair, that many agricultural workers were already paid at this level and that it may attract and keep high-skilled workers.

The payment structure for agricultural workers was also discussed and the fact that often accommodation and provisions are part of payment in this sector, therefore, any system making the real Living Wage a requirement would have to take this into account.

Others argued that a requirement to pay the real Living Wage would have a financial impact on businesses and that many businesses in the agricultural sector would like to pay workers more, but it was not financially viable to do so. Such a requirement may lead to businesses having to cut jobs or increase food prices.

The role of the Scottish Agriculture Wages Board (SAWB) which sets wage rates via the Scottish Agriculture Wages Order (SAWO) was questioned in the context of the real Living Wage being implemented. It was argued that the SAWB is an independent body that makes recommendations about wage rates taking into account the socio-economic impacts of different rates and not an arm of Scottish Government implements policy.

It was also questioned why the agriculture sector would be enforced to pay the real Living Wage given its status as a voluntary initiative for the rest of the economy to be paid by employers that can afford to do so.

There was also a desire to see wider consultation on this if such a mechanism or policy were enforced of the wider impacts, implications and administration of the change.



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