This report presents our recommendations as the Scottish Government's four Agriculture Champions.
This is an opportune time to position Scottish agriculture in the minds of the Scottish public as a key part of the Scottish landscape and economy and we want to get it right.
No change is not an option. Even if Scotland were to remain in the EU, there would be a new version of the CAP for 2021-27, for which there are already proposals for a lower overall budget and reform in some of the same key areas we have considered.
Brexit amplifies and makes more urgent some fundamental challenges that farming was already facing, and it cannot be ignored. But we have aimed to look beyond Brexit and set out a strategy for the long term that will hold up however the immediate uncertainties turn out.
Many reports have been published in the past with excellent recommendations, but they have not always been actioned. This time the Scottish Government, with potentially fewer restrictions on its actions in future, has the opportunity to take forward our recommendations and, working with the industry, make a real difference.
Process so far
In November we set out our emerging thinking in an interim discussion document  in which we identified six strategic themes, underpinned by the concept of Public Value which is relevant to them all. This followed a programme of work with our working groups of individual specialists and business people. The six themes were:
- Continuity over the next five years, including securing the payments to which Scotland is entitled.
- Assisting the Scottish agricultural industry through a period of major transformational change.
- Enhancing Scotland's Natural Capital.
- Helping to improve the productive efficiency of Scottish agriculture.
- Illustrating the huge opportunities for careers in the rural sector.
- Improved integration of the whole supply chain for the benefit of all.
We are also members of the National Council of Rural Advisers, which is looking more broadly at future rural support, and our recommendations should be read alongside theirs.
Our strategy envelopes these themes, and needs to be cohesive to be effective across different sectors and policies.
The rest of this document is in two parts. In Chapter 2 we set out the strategic ambitions for Scottish agriculture that we are recommending. Then Chapter 3 lists our detailed recommendations for the actions that all concerned should take – the Scottish Government, industry bodies, individual farmers and crofters and others. We have made our list as comprehensive as possible but there are bound to be other potentially useful actions which we have not identified in our process.
We would like to thank all those who have contributed to our thinking in whatever way, including those who we spoke with at meetings and those who commented in writing.
We would like to thank in particular the nearly 60 individuals who sat on our working groups and gave a great deal of their time and expertise in helping the Scottish agricultural industry.
Marion MacCormick, Public Value Champion
John Kinnaird, Sustainability Champion
Archie Gibson, Food and Drink Champion
Henry Graham, Education Champion