Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill
The Scottish Government has published the Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill (the “Bill”). The Bill was introduced to give the Scottish Ministers powers to develop a new support framework for financial and other assistance for farming, forestry and rural development. The stated objectives of the Bill are:
- Adoption and use of sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices.
- Production of high quality food.
- Facilitation of on-farm nature restoration, climate mitigation and adaptation.
- Enabling rural communities to thrive.
If the Bill is passed as introduced, the Scottish Ministers must prepare a five year “rural support plan” setting out how they expect to use their powers under the proposed legislation to provide support. The rural support plan must have regard to various matters including the above stated objectives, Scotland’s climate change plan and developments in EU policy and law.
The Bill would also allow the Scottish Government to introduce training requirements for farmers and others. The regulation of animal identification is also updated.
If the Bill is passed as introduced, secondary legislation would then follow setting out more detail about the new support framework. New conditions would start to be introduced in 2025, with the new framework being launched in 2026. It is expected that more information about the actions which farmers and crofters need to take in 2026 will be announced in June 2024.