Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board: terms of reference

Terms of reference for the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board.

Purpose and scope

1. This Government was elected on a manifesto that made the following commitments:

“We will support farmers to produce more of our own food needs sustainably and to farm and croft with nature, including through enhanced animal welfare and health approaches and better adoption and deployment of technology and innovation, as recommended by the recent work of farmer-led groups set up in the last parliament. A single implementation board with representation from all farming sectors and types will be established to drive this work forward.

2.  Recognising the importance of the Farmer Led Group work, our 100 days document set out that we will

 “Establish the integrated implementation board to develop new proposals for sustainable farming support and drive forward the recommendations of the farmer-led groups. This will include consulting on proposals for a sustainable suckler beef scheme”

3. The Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB) will assist the Scottish Government in its development  and implementation of policies to support agriculture in becoming more economically and environmentally sustainable.

4. The Scottish Government is committed to early action on implementing measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture to address the twin crises of climate and nature/loss of biodiversity, therefore the Board, working at pace in the initial phase, will be asked to develop a preliminary package of funded measures, based on the work of the farmer led groups that will work across the generality of Scottish agriculture for agreement by COP 26. This will include early progress on reducing livestock emissions and the package should be implemented by spring 2022.

5. Scottish Government is committed to ensure a Just Transition to net zero, and the Board will be expected to embed this consideration in all they do as we transition from the current system.

6. The Board will be asked to contribute to Scottish Government’s work to implement policy reform, incorporating the relevant recommendations of the farmer-led groups to cut emissions across agriculture, support the production of sustainable, high quality food, and design a new support system and approach. An immediate priority and focus will be on how to make progress on cutting emissions from the suckler beef sector.  In the longer term we would expect the Board to consider how we use our land and the role that agriculture can play in restoring biodiversity.

7. The Scottish Government is committed to a service design approach to policy making involving user-centred development, therefore the Board will work in the context of that wider direct engagement with farmers, crofters and land managers.

8. During the first phase of work we will establish a cohort of early adopter farmers, crofters and land managers to act as a test of change group. This will develop delivery mechanisms that will fit with the reality and practicality of the rural businesses the policies are intended to support. It will be a fundamental part of co-designing policy that can be delivered in a way that is fit for purpose.   


9, Membership of the Board comprises a balance of farming, geographical and environmental interests. Members have been appointed to provide the necessary breadth of expertise and knowledge required to take this work forward. 

10. Confirmed Board members are set out in the Annex to these terms of reference (TOR).  Additional members will be confirmed in due course.

Governance and accountability

11. The Board will be co-chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, and Martin Kennedy, President of the National Farmers Union Scotland.

12. Recommendations to the Scottish Government will be as far as possible, by a consensus agreement, failing which the Board should indicate that consensus was not possible and provide options for consideration. 

13. A register of member interests will be held by the Board secretariat in order to maintain transparency.


14. The minimum number of attendees required at each Board meeting in order to properly execute its business shall be 12.

Terms of engagement

15. Each member of the Board will bring their own experience to discussions. It is expected that all members will be mindful of the different approaches each member may have, listen carefully to understand, and be tolerant of different views and perspectives, even if they do not agree with them.  It is expected that members will treat each other, and officials providing support to the Board, with respect, courtesy and dignity at all times, both in, and outwith Board meetings.   

16. Discussions will be held under Chatham House rules which allows for members to reference discussions outwith the Board and its membership, but not to attribute any aspect to an individual. 


17. Membership of the Board is on a voluntary basis. Members will not receive any remuneration for participation, but are eligible to be reimbursed for any reasonable out of pocket expenses incurred in consequence of their participation in Board functions.

Timescales, frequency and location of meetings

18. The Board`s terms of reference and membership will be reviewed every 6 months to ensure that it remains fit for purpose.  

19. In the initial phase of work (first three months) meetings will take place fortnightly thereafter it is anticipated that the board will meet every 6 weeks.

20. In light of both Covid restrictions and the likely geographical spread of the membership, the Group will meet virtually.

Support to the Board

21. The Board will 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. They will also have access to analytical support via the Scottish Government’s Rural and Environmental Science and Analytical Services (RESAS) which provides analytical and scientific support to help improve rural and environmental policy

22. The Board will be supported by a Scottish Government Civil Service secretariat who will manage the flow of information to and from the Board, and who will respond to stakeholder queries and provide updates to stakeholders as required. They will also arrange for meetings of the Board and will issue an agenda and papers 5 working days in advance of Board meetings. They will also be responsible for management of any expenses claims.

23. The policy development and scheme design work underpinning the work of the board will be supported by Scottish Government policy, rural payments and inspections and information systems teams working jointly within a managed programme of work that will report on progress to the board. These teams will draw on expertise from other organisations within the sector as the work develops. This managed process of policy and delivery design and planning linked to the engagement with users will ensure the final outcome meets the needs of the sector and delivers on Government’s objectives.


24. The Scottish Government has set out a number of policy objectives however it is required to comply with certain statutory legal obligations which apply to the work the Board is to undertake. These obligations must be borne in mind by the Board when making recommendations to the Scottish Government. The Board will be provided with guidance on these matters in the course of its work.


25. The Board’s advice will be documented through meetings’ records and associated papers, and summarised, anonymised minutes of meetings will be placed in the public domain via a dedicated webpage on the Scottish Government website.  Official reports prepared by the Board will be published on the Scottish Government website.

26. These TOR will be updated as required going forward.


Board Membership

  • Tim Bailey
  • Adele Jones
  • Scott Henderson
  • Martin Kennedy
  • Marion MacCormick
  • Donald Mackinnon
  • Andy McGowan
  • Alison Milne
  • Andrew Moir
  • Vicki Nash
  • Anne Rae MacDonald
  • Mark Reed
  • Pete Ritchie
  • Mike Robinson
  • Kate Rowell
  • Claire Simonetta
  • Sarah Simpson
  • Louise Welsh
  • Nikki Yoxall
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