- How many meetings have the Scottish Government and any relevant ministers had with the National Farmers Union of Scotland in the last five financial years?
- Can this be broken down by each of the financial years?
- And also if these meetings were conducted in person or virtually?
- And when was the last time a relevant minister met directly with the NFUS?
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption(s) under section(s) 12(1) and 25(1) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below in this letter.
I have responded to each part of your requests in turn below.
How many meetings have the Scottish Government and any relevant ministers had with the National Farmers Union of Scotland in the last five financial years?
As your request does not indicate whether you mean formal meetings, stakeholder meetings and/or conferences etc, that NFUS may have attended, and engaged with Ministers or SG Officials, we have taken a wide interpretation of meeting.
In relation to the part of your request for information on how many meetings there have been between Scottish Government and NFU Scotland over the period, this has been interpreted as meetings with Scottish Government officials.
Officials from across the Scottish Government, particularly those in the Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate, including the Rural Payments and Inspections Division and its 16 area offices across Scotland and the Islands, the Environment and Forestry Directorate, the Energy and Climate Change Directorate, frequently meet with NFU Scotland representatives on a wide range of issues, including, operational issues, policy, land use, animal health, environment, climate change, etc.
Meetings with NFU Scotland are not recorded centrally, but by the relevant Directorate/Division/Team under the subject matter of the meeting, therefore to gather and collate the information requested from all of these Directorates, Divisions and Teams would require a great deal of time and resource across the Scottish Government, and would exceed the cost limit for Freedom of Information requests. This part of your request has therefore been considered exempt under Section 12(1) of FOISA. Under Section 12(1) of FOISA, we are not obliged to comply with a request for information where the estimated cost of doing so would exceed the relevant amount prescribed in the Fees Regulations, currently set at £600 (regulation 5 of the Fees Regulations).
If you would like to be more specific about meetings on a particular subject or topic, it may be possible to provide the information you require. To assist you, I have included links to some key stakeholder Groups that the NFU Scotland are members of. These links show details of meetings including minutes, etc, I hope this is useful to you.
I also include a link to the list of Groups on the Scottish Government website, NFU Scotland will be or will have been represented on some of these groups.
In relation to the part of your request for the number of meetings between relevant Ministers and the National Farmers Union of Scotland, such information is publicly available through the Scottish Parliament’s Lobby Register, which can be found at the following link Search returns - Lobbying Register.This part of your request is therefore exempt under Section 25(1) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA). Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.
Can this be broken down by each of the financial years?
As outlined above the request is covered by the exemptions under Sections 12 and 25 of FOISA, however, the search facility in the Lobby Register allows for searches to be carried out for any specific time period, so information could be broken down by financial years.
And also if these meetings were conducted in person or virtually?
Again, as outlined above, the request is covered by the exemptions under Sections 12 and 25 of FOISA. Entries on the lobby register do not specify whether meetings were conducted virtually or in person, however, any meetings between March 2020 and March 2022 would have followed the Covid regulations and guidance in place at the time.
And when was the last time a relevant minister met directly with the NFUS?
In relation to the last time relevant Ministers met with NFUS, The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, met with NFUS at Agriscot on 16 November 2022 and is due to meet with NFUS on 14 December. The Minister for Environment and Land Reform, met with NFUS on 12 July 2022 and spoke at the NFUS Conference on 27 October 2022. The Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, last met with NFUS on 24 June 2022.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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