Agriculture and Rural Development Stakeholder Group minutes: September 2022

Minutes from the ARD Stakeholder Group on 8 September 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Jeremy Moody, Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV)
  • April Armstrong, Confederation of Forest Industries (CONFOR) 
  • Calum Lindsay, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • John Fletcher, deer vet
  • Ross MacLeod, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT)
  • Drew Ratter, Highlands and Islands Agricultural Support Group (HIASG)        
  • Robin Clarke, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE)  
  • John Raven, Historic Environment Scotland (HES)     
  • Neil Wilson, Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS)
  • Keith Matthews, James Hutton Institute (JHI)          
  • Vicky Robinson, Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF)         
  • Grace Reid, National Sheep Association Scotland (NSA)     
  • Maria de la Torre, Stuart Shaw, Nature Scot                                      
  • David Michie, National Farmers' Union of Scotland (NFUS)    
  • Stephanie Mander, Nourish Scotland    
  • Lucy Ozanne, Sarah Miller, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS)       
  • Alan Laidlaw, Katrina Barclay, Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS)  
  • Vicki Swales, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
  • Chris McVey, RSABI           
  • Steven Thomson, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)
  • Tim Bailey, Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS)
  • Ian Muirhead, Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) 
  • Andy McGowan, Martin Morgan, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW)
  • Patrick Krause, Miranda Geelhoed, Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF)          
  • Brendan Callaghan, Scottish Forestry     
  • George Burgess, John Kerr, officials, Scottish Government          
  • Paul Richardson, Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) 
  • Douglas Bell, Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA)    
  • David McKay, Soil Association      
  • Debs Roberts, Jo Barron, Scottish Organic Producers Association (SOPA)          
  • Jayne Ashley, South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE)     


  • Scottish Enterprise
  • Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed the reconvened group. Since the last meeting a new interim director of the Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate, George Burgess, had been appointed. George introduced himself to the group.

Future direction of the group

A revised Terms of Reference was circulated prior to this meeting. The primary intention of the group is to establish two-way engagement to discuss issues such as the future vision, framework and agriculture bill. 

Discussion covered the following areas:

  • group is useful forum but all acknowledged the importance of open dialogue
  • in-person format would allow more open and frank discussion but requires advance notice for attendance
  • more focused agendas and increased frequency of meetings was requested
  • consideration of how to disseminate routine information to enable meetings to focus on substantive discussion and information exchange
  • there was interest in both the big issues (future policy, etc.) and operational issues – consideration required on best format for both
  • members of the group wanted to include broader policy topics in future, such as environment to cover biodiversity strategy, land use, etc
  • members offered potential venues to help facilitate future meetings

The next meeting was scheduled to be in-person on 9 November to workshop the Agriculture Bill consultation. Invitations and further information would follow.


  • further consideration of format and frequency of meetings
  • consideration of separate operational update meetings

Cabinet Secretary for Rural and Islands (10.30 – 11:00)

The Cabinet Secretary provided an overview of what had happened in the portfolio since the last meeting including on the co-development approach, vision, national test programme, proposed framework and an update on the launch of the consultation on “Delivering our vision for Scottish agriculture - proposals for a new Agriculture Bill”. The intent was to create an adaptive framework to enable government to respond to future social, economic and environmental changes, challenges, and opportunities in order to deliver on the vision.

Members asked questions on the following issues:

  • clarification on the recent announcement of £33 million being removed from agriculture funding to cover the cost of living crisis


  • Rural Affairs and Islands (RAI) provided uncommitted resource funding to support the emergency response. It is “ring-fenced” and will return to the budget in future years. It has no impact on existing commitments or schemes, and has no impact on the National Test Programme
  • overall budget situation is constrained by cost of living crisis but within RAI portfolio the issue is available capital not resource funding
  • when would more be known about proposed consultation events?


Action: timetable of workshops to be circulated when confirmed (dates circulated to group 20/09/2022)

  • disappointment expressed about the lack of detail in the consultation which could have been mitigated if the group had been included in the planning. Clarity on next steps required


  • feedback was appreciated and there will be consideration on providing clarity in future communications but the approach to the Bill was to provide powers which necessitates a high level approach
  • did the commitment on the proposals for food security remain following the Food Security and Supply Taskforce work?


  • the taskforce made recommendations and some of these are medium to long-term actions but a number of measures are already in place
  • would the composition of ARIOB membership be reviewed to reflect broader land use and ownership?


  • terms of reference require membership review every 6 months
  • members asked what policies may be in place by 2025


  • limitation on changes due to the 2020 Act and a new Bill was required for substantive change. Action continues under the National Test Programme. There are broader considerations around resourcing and timescales. It will be important to ensure that as the Bill goes to parliament work on the detail of secondary legislation progresses
  • is there a commitment on full rounds of AECS funding?


  • no commitment was possible pending the budget process. Updates will be provide when possible but intent to continue AECS remains
  • clarity on what is meant by EU alignment was requested


  • the vision sets out we will stay aligned to measures where practicable and we want to align to the 10 CAP strategic objectives in principle

Vision and framework

Members were talked through a presentation on the vision (published 2 March 2022) and framework which included a summary, proposed timeline, and proposed payment framework (from the Agriculture Bill consultation).

Action: Presentation to be issued alongside note of meeting.

Discussion covered the following areas:

  • clarity required on definition of sustainable or regenerative agriculture and the metric for being a world leader (as per the vision)
  • questions were raised on the framework about the lack of arable farming and where specific interventions would sit – it was hoped tree planting would not solely sit in Tier 4
  • the worked example slide was appreciated as it made it easier to visualise the framework and was a good way to help farmers recognise where actions they are already undertaking would fit within it
  • concern were raised about linking enhanced payments to greater efficiency as the latter would result in cost savings anyway so we need to ensure the right measures and within the right tiers
  • concern was raised about potentially discouraging early action while businesses wait for detail on the framework
  • there are concurrent pieces of primary legislation and there is a need to ensure no incompatibilities between them
  • the whole farm plan concept needs to be a genuine mechanism


  • the proposed tiered approach will cover all sectors and enhanced payments provides options to be selected based on sector, region, etc.
  • these were illustrative examples and details on future measures and/or schemes are being developed. The National Test Programme is an important part of determining measures and the shape of support
  • applicants would be rewarded for good practice already occurring and these actions and measures would count towards being eligible for the enhanced payment
  • extensive feedback was provided by ARIOB on whole farm plans
  • clarity was sought on the commitment to make 50% of direct funding conditional by 2025. Members highlighted cross compliance already did this and there were concerns about the feasibility of doing more


  • there is a need to balance meeting manifesto commitments with the timeline for new powers which means we might need to do more through existing systems such as cross compliance

Bill consultation

The Bill consultation launched on 29 August and closes on 21 November. The next ARD meeting will be in person which will allow for a workshop on the consultation, invitations are to be issued shortly.

Update on National Test Programme

An update on the NTP was circulated with the meeting papers. Due to time constraints, questions were asked to be sent to the secretariat.

Any other business

No other business was raised and the chair closed the meeting.

Action: to circulate membership list to attendees.

Action tracker

  • further consideration of format and frequency of meetings​​
  • consideration of separate operational update meetings
  • timetable of workshops to be circulated when confirmed
  • presentation to be issued alongside note of meeting - dates circulated to group 20/09/2022
  • circulate membership list to attendees
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