Publication - Minutes

ARD Stakeholder Group minutes: August 2020

Published: 4 Nov 2020
Date of meeting: 27 Aug 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the ARD (agriculture and rural development) Stakeholder Group held on 27 August 2020.

Published:
4 Nov 2020
ARD Stakeholder Group minutes: August 2020

Attendees and apologies

Attendees

  • Dave Miller, The James Hutton Institute
  • Jeremy Moody, CAAV
  • Grace Reid, NSA Scotland
  • Doug Bell, Quality Meat Scotland
  • Eleanor Kay, Scottish Land and Estates
  • Ian Muirhead, Agriculture Industries Confederation
  • Jamie Farquhar, Confederation of Forest Industries (CONFOR)
  • John Raven, Historic Environment Scotland
  • Maria De La Torre, NatureScot
  • Neil Wilson, Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers (IAAS)
  • Nina Clancy, RSABI
  • Patrick Krause, Scottish Crofting Federation
  • Paul Flanagan, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
  • Pete Ritchie, Nourish Scotland
  • Robin Clarke, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Rosemary Champion, Smallholding Scotland
  • Ross Lilley, NatureScot
  • Ross Macleod, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust
  • Serafin Pazos-Vidal, COSLA
  • Steven Thomson, SRUC
  • Tim Bailey, SAOS
  • Vicky Swales, RSPB and Environment LINK
  • Martin Morgan, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers
  • Stephen Young, SLE
  • Deborah Roberts, SOPA
  • Drew Ratter, semi-retired crofter and Investment Committee of Shetland Charitable Trust (Chairman)

Internal

  • John Kerr, Head of Agricultural Policy Division (Chair)
  • Jen Willoughby, Head of National and International Regulatory Alignment
  • Emma Glen, CAP Policy Team (Secretariat)
  • Shirley Graham, SRDP Policy Team
  • David Anderson, SRDP Policy Team
  • John Brownlee, APD Rural Support Bill
  • Brendan Callaghan, Head of Operational Delivery, Scottish Forestry
  • Vicky Dunlop, Branch Head, Rural Support Bill
  • Richard Haw, RESAS
  • Louise Lang, Brexit Policy Advisor
  • Marcus McKenzie, RPID: Strategic Planning and Operational Performance
  • Tracy McIntyre, RPID
  • Sheetal Mehra, RPID    
  • James Muldoon, Head of Agriculture Support Policy Development Unit
  • Paul Neison, RPID – Mapping and Land Services
  • Mike Parker, Head of Seed Certification, SASA
  • Scott Sayers, AHW: EU Exit
  • Lynne Stewart, RPID: Scheme Management
  • Joanna Storer, APD: Rural Support Bill
  • Derek Wilson, Head of Agriculture Transformation in Productivity Unit
  • Michael Wilson, SRDP Policy Team
  • Nicola Kerr, SLR: Future Rural Policy Frameworks, Land Use and Land Reform

Items and actions

Welcome and introduction (update on actions from previous meeting)

The chair welcomed everyone to the meeting of the ARD Stakeholder Group and confirmed attendance. A written update was issued in advance of the meeting. 

The Group were introduced to four new members of the team: 

  • Jen Willoughby – Head of National and International Regulatory Alignment Unit
  • James Muldoon - Head of Agriculture Support Policy Development Unit
  • Kirsten Beddows - Head of Agriculture Transformation for Environment and Climate Change
  • Derek Wilson - Head of Agriculture Transformation in Productivity Unit

These new roles create capacity to build up our policy area, this is an overdue but welcome additional assistance. 

Action point:

  • organogram to be circulated around the group

A written update to the actions from the previous meeting was issued before the meeting and the group were asked if they had any comments.

With regards to building on the interest the public have developed in buying food directly and locally, it was felt a more strategic investment was required in local supply chains and distribution, perhaps not just a website. Stakeholders were keen to be involved in discussions.

Action point:

  • feedback to food and drink colleagues

The group welcomed the news that the Climate Change Group would be reconvened in the autumn. A query was raised over whether there was any consideration to broaden the discussions to nature or whether it will remain specific to agriculture? It was confirmed that work was still underway to resource this team, but likely that the group will be developed to best fit the work that needs carried out.

Action point:

  • feedback to group lead regarding query to broaden discussion
  • make group aware of offer from Historic Environment Scotland to provide advice

The minutes and actions were agreed.

Pillar 1 and pillar 2 updates

The group were informed that the first payment run of the 2020 BPS national loan scheme had gone and will arrive in bank accounts on 1st Sep. This is one month quicker than previous years. Further loan offers were due to be issued this week.

The payment targets for Pillar 1 and 2 have been met for 2019. Priority is now focussing on a small number of remaining claims and 2020. Currently working on payment strategy, high level approach – putting payment dates into table which will be circulated in the future.

The current position from SRDP overall is that we are continuing to monitor to ensure we have drawn down all money available form this current programme.

From 2021 the primary powers from the bill allow us to lay secondary legislation. From a Pillar 2 perspective – LFASS will be retained in 2021. AECS is currently receiving further consideration at this time due to the fact it represents a significant chunk of the budget and we don’t yet have clarity from Westminster regarding this. The AECS scheme has long term funding so we are taking more time to come to a view here but we are continuing to press for a decision as aware of the impact it makes on farms and crofts across the country due to the preparation time required for applications. The paper update sent to the ARD group in advance of the meeting provided an update on the AECS extensions. 

A stakeholder queried the new entrant schemes and it was confirmed there is no plan for these to continue at the moment. The focus is on the land matching service and continuing work of skills matching service and looking at opportunities for farm advisory service. It was then queried whether there would be an evaluation of this – a lot is being done across pillar 2.

Action point:

  • find out what stage the evaluation of the new entrant scheme is at and feedback

A stakeholder also raised that on SUSSS it states that nearly £7 million has been dispersed between 1024 businesses, these are large payments. They wondered whether it was possible to see the spread of the payments – how many in different regions and range of payments e.g. how many from £1000, how many at £15,000. They felt it would be good to get an idea of very large payments going out and how many small (indicate number of our members using the scheme).

Action point:

  • Tracey McIntyre to take this away and clarify

Agriculture (retained EU Law and Data)(Scotland) Bill

It was confirmed that the bill had now passed Stage 3 and stakeholders / colleagues were thanked for their support and input – it at times created challenge and helped us to get to where we got to. There are now more steps to go in terms of secondary legislation however. More info can be provided as the secondary legislation goes through its various stages. In terms of the bill itself there will be a pause for 6 -8 weeks where its subject to any legal challenge before it then goes for royal ascent and the bill will become law.

A stakeholder asked if it would be possible to provide a report on the various amendments so that they would be clear with the detail. 

Action point:

  • pull together summary of amendments and circulate

Stakeholders then brought up the purpose clause, which was rejected. They felt that a significant opportunity had been missed to put down a marker of where agriculture is going in this country. They also felt a consensus had been within grasp.

CAP simplification and improvement

It was confirmed there was now more capacity within the team to pick this up and discussions had been had in recent days regarding the detail. Big decisions remain on penalties and greening as the UK government are planning to withdraw greening and put the money into basic payments. At this point we are not in a position to discuss this any further and apologies were made that the update couldn’t be more forthcoming.

Stakeholders queried how proposals for improvement had been taken forward and felt that the process hadn’t been transparent. It was felt that a lot of weight is being placed on the Stability and Simplicity report but that this was produced some time ago and a lot has changed in the interim. It was also felt that the Simplification Taskforce used a relatively narrow group of stakeholders. They’d like assurances of an open and transparent process.

We confirmed that this has been a difficult period where the focus hasn’t been on these issues largely due to Covid-19 and the complexities of underlying legislation, however we would note that more dialogue and engagement was wanted within the group going forward before anything is laid.

Farming and Food Production Future Policy Group

A written update was provided on the group in advance of the meeting. They are hoping to meet again in the 2nd half of September but await Mr Ewing confirming what the group have to look at next. 

Stakeholders again queried when the group would publish their report and whether there was an indicative end date for this. They felt that it may generate poor policy as some stakeholders were involved and some were not, which made it a frustrating process for some. We understand the viewpoint but the FFPFP group want the report to have a sufficient level of detail as it will have a major impact on decisions and this may be slowing the process down. We need to design a system which meets objectives of issues people have raised but need to strike a balance and get buy in from people on the ground.

Stakeholders also made the point that they’d understood the group was set up at the request of parliament to give advice to government. However, if Mr Ewing is now chairing the group they felt that the independence of the group would be steered by him. It was confirmed that Mr Ewing has stepped in order to provide the necessary weight to work with the group to build an agreement on a number of things where there remains a divergence of views. He has made it explicitly clear that the group would remain independent and the findings would be reached independently. It was confirmed that the minutes from these meetings are published on the SG website. 

Stakeholders wanted to note that it has been said from the beginning that they don’t see this group having much credibility when there have been some significant bodies within Scottish Agriculture which were not invited or privy to the decisions. For example the Scottish Crofting Federation, Nourish Scotland, Food Coalition etc. They also queried what the ARD group was for in this context, the chair noted these points and undertook to provide the feedback to others within Government. .

Land parcel system – interaction with forestry industry

It was confirmed that following on from the last meeting an email was sent? containing examples of the issues with forestry and the land parcel system. We are now proposing to work with stakeholders to identify any opportunities or amendments that could be used to benefit forestry here. There are some challenges but we are absolutely up for the opportunity to review these to see if we can address any of these and streamline the process.

Stakeholders queried whether there would a be a discussion with stakeholders or would this be brought through the customer rep group. It was confirmed that initially we must identify the exact issues - administrative and technical issues which are largely to do with the way forestry claims and contracts are created and maintained. Examples provided will be looked at initially but if things can go wider we will expand after that.

Action point:

  • Brendan will be in touch to set up workshop / request contributors

Covid-19 recovery and green recovery

Action point:

  • will provide a written update on Green Recovery to the group as no one from the department was able to attend today

Brexit

We issued papers in advance of the meeting and are happy to take questions offline once everyone has had an opportunity to go over these. ATM this is all we can provide at this point until agreement has been made. Movement from phase 2 to phase 3 is scheduled to take place in September and the team are happy to act as a link from the ARD group with any stakeholder engagement. It’s likely that any engagement will take place in meetings such as this and stakeholders will have opportunity to comment on frameworks there.

Action point:

  • include email address for contact within minutes - EU.ExitHub.ARE@gov.scot

A stakeholder then brought up the withdrawal of Basimad and who the best person would be to contact this. We confirmed that this has been discussed recently, but in terms of who to contact generally it would be SASA.

UKG Internal Market White Paper: SG response to consultation?

This was circulated in advance of the meeting so that stakeholders would be able to see the proposals which we feel would be fundamentally bad for devolution. The consultation has now been closed. Scottish Government submitted a response, and there was a debate in the Scottish Parliament.. We expect to see the UK government legislative proposals soon and then we will need to work on legislative consent. We will also need to provide a more detailed response to the White Paper – constitution colleagues are keen for any feedback from stakeholders. We would welcome engagement on this and are likely to be in touch to confirm who would like to be involved. 

Stakeholders view the frameworks and White Paper as connected and feel there is a risk that one may undermine the other. They would welcome a discussion on these and asked to be pointed in the direction of who to speak to. We will make the connections here. Some are happy to share the response they submitted to the consultation and will forward this on.

Action point:

  • Jen to make connections between stakeholders to allow feedback to be provided

A.O.B

It was noted that although tractor driving tests have restarted there have been some issues. Fiona has been dealing with this and will provide an update.

Action point:

  • provide an update with the minute or separately if not received in time

The group were asked to spread the message to anyone who might be using auction markets over 6–8 weeks to remind them to keep an eye on guidelines. A joint release just issued to remind the farming community that Covid-19 has not gone. 

The Sheep Compensation Scheme was raised and a stakeholder mentioned that they’d received a letter to indicate officials and ministers were looking at this. They were asked for their thoughts on how the scheme would go ahead with DEFRA. If anyone is interested in responding they should make contact with Heather Curran

Action point:

  • contact Heather to see if anything more specific can be issued with the minutes

Stakeholders queried the stories around a potential wheat crisis and the tariff per tonne. It was confirmed that in the event of a no deal a proposed tariff is available on the UK Government website. 

The next meeting was confirmed as being scheduled for 13th October but the group were encouraged to get in touch if there were any specific issues they had or they’d like to liaise with any colleagues. 

Action Owner  Completed
Organogram of the directorate to be circulated around the group SG EG
Feedback that stakeholders feel a more strategic approach is required, perhaps a website, and are keen to be involved in discussions SG EG 23/09/20
Update Climate Change Group of stakeholders query regarding expanding scope of the group to include nature SG EG 23/9/20
Make Climate Change Group aware of offer from HES to provide advice SG EG 23/9/20
Feedback on what stage the evaluation of the New Entrant Scheme is at SG EG 23/9/20
Look into whether it’s possible to see the spread of payments on SUSS SG Circulated EG 13/10/20
Summary of amendments to the bill to be circulated SG Circulated 
Contact stakeholders to set up a workshop/request contributions SG Started
Written update to be provided on Green recovery SG EG 23/9/20
Provide email address for stakeholders re frameworks/brexit SG EG 27/8/20
Make connections for stakeholders who want to provide feedback SG EG
Provide an update on tractor driving tests SG EG requested 23/9/20
Contact Heather Curran for more info on the letter that’s been issued SG EG – will issue with papers for next meeting