Agriculture - national test programme: partial business and regulatory impact assessment

A partial business and regulatory impact assessment, considering the impact of the national test programme.


Within Government

  • Agriculture Policy Division
  • Rural Payments and Inspections Division
  • Information Systems Division
  • Animal Health and Welfare Division
  • Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services
  • Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA)
  • Natural Resources Divisions
  • NatureScot
  • Defra

Consultation and discussion between and within all of the above government departments helped to shape the policy proposals and development of the National Test Programme from an early stage.

Public Consultation

Following the publication of the Farmer Led Groups' reports between October 2020 and July 2021, the Scottish Government committed to consult on a potential sustainable Suckler Beef Climate Scheme as part of a wider suite of proposals on the future of agriculture support. In response to the reports, however, a number of stakeholders, including the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS), called for a more pan-sectoral approach. It was therefore agreed that the consultation would be expanded to encompass all sectors of Scottish agriculture, consulting on key questions on the recommendations of all the Farmer Led Groups. Consequently the Scottish Government launched the 'Agricultural transition – first steps towards our national policy' public consultation, which ran from 25 August 2021 to 17 November 2021, and received over 300 responses.

The consultation focused broadly on the recommendations of the Farmer Led Groups, which aimed to provide practical recommended actions to lower Scottish agriculture's carbon footprint, enhance the environment and boost business. The recommendations were broken down into nine core themes, and key questions were asked on each:

  • Baselining
  • Capital Funding
  • Biodiversity
  • Just Transition
  • Sequestration
  • Productivity
  • Research & Development
  • Knowledge & Skills, and
  • Supply Chains.

The analysis of the responses to this consultation was published on 26 August 2022, and will be used by Government including through discussion with the Agriculture Reform and Oversight Board (ARIOB) and other stakeholders on the future support framework. These discussions and the responses to the baselining questions in particular have been used to inform the development of the twin tracks of the National Test Programme.

Both the responses to the consultation, and the learning gained from the National Test Programme, will be used to inform the consideration and development of the new Scottish Agricultural Bill.

The National Test Programme has been developed in consultation with the ARIOB and the Policy Development Group (PDG) that was established to support the ARIOB. The PDG has considered the proposals in detail which have then been reported to the ARIOB who have had the opportunity to offer a view.

The ARIOB represents a wide range of interests across agriculture and beyond to ensure a good representation. The PDG is a small group, however the members have been selected as they have an overview of the sector and land management, to then represent a range of interests, rather than sectoral.

Research is also being undertaken as part of the design and delivery of the digital services. This includes research with end users to identify their needs and problems accessing and using the services that will deliver the National Test Programme.


The consultation on, and development of, the initial steps towards a transition to a future support framework, including the National Test Programme, has been taken forward with co-design and participative consultation at the forefront.

The Farmer Led Groups brought together a mix of individual farmers and crofters, business owners, and industry organisation representatives with direct knowledge and expertise to propose practical workable solutions at a sub sector level, resulting in a series of reports and recommendations which provided the basis for the development of the Programme. The detail of the memberships of each of these groups is available here: Farmer-led climate change groups - Agriculture and the environment - (

The Agriculture Reform and Oversight Board (ARIOB), which was established to drive forward the work of the Farmer Led Groups and the implementation of policy reform and has been heavily involved in the development of the National Test Programme, is also made up of a mix of individual farmers and crofters, business owners, and industry organisation representatives. Details of its membership are available here: Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board - (

The National Test Programme represents a continuation of this commitment to co-design and participative consultation with businesses, rather than the culmination of previous engagement. As part of the Programme, we intend to engage with businesses to evaluate the impact and outcomes of the two tracks. For Track Two in particular, we are in the process of establishing a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework which will provide a structured mechanism for this engagement. This learning will then be used to inform the development of the future support framework and the new Scottish Agriculture Bill.

User research will be undertaken to understand user needs and problems, and to test out theories and hypotheses for the mechanism that delivers the policy.



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