New Rural Support Scheme development - evidence: outputs summary

This synthesis report covers twelve written reports providing evidence reviews, analysis, summaries and expert briefings on agriculture in Scotland to shape future policy to help deliver sustainable food production that tackles climate change and nature restoration.


Scotland, along with the rest of the UK, withdrew from the European Union (EU) in January 2021 following the conclusion of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.[1] This means that Scotland is no longer bound by the rules and support frameworks that underpin the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

As the UK was negotiating withdrawal from the EU the CAP was also going through a major round of reforms, with EU Member States having to deliver more for climate and nature through new support mechanisms and priorities from 2023. In the UK the Devolved Administrations are evolving agricultural policies that reflect each administration's priorities for agriculture and the environment. This means that agricultural policy across the UK is starting to diverge. Whilst the Scottish Government have committed to remaining aligned to EU policy where practicably possible,[2] Scottish agriculture still operates in UK agri-food supply chains where cross-border issues remain important, as well as budget allocations from Westminster for agriculture and land use sectors. With differing policy approaches evolving across the UK administrations the Common Frameworks[3] also become important for Scottish officials to consider alongside the Internal Market Act 2020,[4] and Subsidy Control Act, 2022.[5]

To help progress its own unique approach to agricultural policy that supports sustainable food production and tackles climate change and nature restoration, the Scottish Government commissioned work in 2021 to provide expert advice and analytical support to help consider future policy options available for Scotland. Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), along with partners the James Hutton Institute, Pareto Consulting and ICF were commissioned by RESAS to provide Economic Advice and Related Services to Support Development of a New Rural Support Scheme for Scotland (ref: RESAS/005/21). The project ran from November 2021 to March 2023 and the core research team co-constructed the programme of work with Scottish Government analysists (RESAS), policy leads and delivery teams (RPID).

The project was managed by Steven Thomson (SRUC) with the core team also consisting of Andrew Moxey (Pareto Consulting) and Keith Matthews (JHI). The full list of contributors to the project included:

SRUC: Steven Thomson, John Newbold, Carol-Anne Duthie, Ian Archibald, Mark Lawson, Tim Geraghty, Mike Coffey and Davy McCracken

JHI: Keith Matthews, Douglas Wardell-Johnson, Dave Miller, Zisis Gagkas

Pareto Consulting: Andrew Moxey

ICF: John Elliot

The programme of work consisted of (i) evidence reviews; (ii) conceptual, expert, think pieces (e.g. Basic Payment Scheme Regions, delivery framework, incentivising nature restoration); and, (iii) analytical evidence. In total twelve written reports were provided to the Scottish Government, in addition to numerous informal discussions with officials, presentations of concepts and findings to officials, and presentations to the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board.[6] This report reproduces the summaries from each of the 12 individual written reports, with hypertext links to each full report.

The reports are:

1. Summary of Future Agricultural Policy Proposals for Northern Ireland (Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W1). An evidence review of policy thinking and commitments in Northern Ireland.

2. BPS regionalisation options – some conceptual considerations (Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W2). A conceptual piece that considers the background to the current 3 Basic Payment Scheme regions in Scotland and options for change to baseline direct support better deliver against policy objectives.

3. Summary of Delinking and Lump Sum Direct Payments in England (Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W3). An evidence review of policy options around delinked payment proposals in England.

4. Summary of the Agricultural Common Support Framework (Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W4). An evidence review of the draft UK common support frameworks that devolved administrations will have to adhere to.

5. 'Actively Farmed Hectares' - Data analysis and policy considerations (Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W5). An analytical report with conceptual considerations regarding the NFUS proposal for actively farmed hectares to replace the 3-rgion Basic Payment Scheme as the baseline for future direct support.

6. Basic Payment Regionalisation Options - Analysis of Spend and Redistribution Implications (Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W6). An analytical report that considers the redistributive impacts arising from selected future baseline direct area based support scenarios, including conceptual consideration of practical implementation issues and strengths and weaknesses of the approaches.

7. Methane mitigation by feed supplements (Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W7). An evidence review of a larger piece of work that SRUC scientists had completed for DEFRA.

8. EU Member States' CAP Strategic Plans (Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W8). An evidence review of the emerging details of how EU Member States were implementing the new 2023 Common Agricultural Policy following major reforms.

9. Calving Intervals in Scotland's Cattle Population: Conditionality Options (Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W9). A conceptual and analytical report that used Animal and Plant Health Agency supplied Cattle Tracing System data to estimate the potential for introducing calving interval conditionality to coupled support payments for beef calves.

10. Protection of Peatlands and Wetlands – a potential new GAEC measure for Scotland (Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W10). A conceptual and analytical report that used unpublished analysis by the James Hutton Institute to consider the scope and options for introducing a new cross compliance measure to protect peatlands and wetlands – thereby aligning with the EU's new Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition standard number 2 (GAEC2).

11. Conceptual delivery approach for Tier 2 enhanced conditionality of agricultural support in Scotland (Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W11). A conceptual paper that draws attention to the need for policy proposals to be implementable, offering suggestions of how the existing Ecological Focus Area scheme administrative structures could be extended to bring in many of the proposed 'Tier 2' enhanced conditionality measures.

12. Key considerations when including biodiversity measures within environmental conditionality (Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W12). A conceptual report that considers how nature restoration to enhance biodiversity can be delivered under the proposed tiered conditional support framework.



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