Agronomy group slams ‘confusing’ Agriculture Bill consultation

A substantial block of Scottish farmers has criticized the Scottish Government’s Agriculture Bill consultation, stating it is confusing, overly complicated and lacking in any real detail.

They also say the consultation shows “no recognition of the dramatic changes that have impacted the industry in 2022”.

The stinging analysis of the process surrounding the consultation on the proposals comes from the Milnathort-based arable co-operative Scottish Agronomy.

The business, which provides agronomy advice to more than 200 farmers throughout Scotland, tweeted the content of its consultation response this week, listing key areas of concern as highlighted by “several members”.

Signed by company secretary George Lawrie, the response letter states that Scottish Agronomy’s members, like other growers in Scotland, faced “unprecedented challenges from dramatic rises in key input costs, price volatility, labor shortages and an increasingly unpredictable climate”.

It continues: “We believe the recent proposals put forward in the new Agriculture Bill consultation neither adds clarity nor any real meaning to the future direction of agriculture support for the sector.

“There is no detail within the consultation as to where funding will be delivered and no direction on how ‘conditionality’ will be applied.

“The questions posed throughout the document are leading responders to agree to the measures outlined but without any real detail of how they will be implemented”.

Agriculture Bill proposals ‘give the impression of simply adding more red tape’

While acknowledging that farmers understand the need for changes to be put to place, to contribute positively to the environment, the Scottish Agronomy response is critical of the future climate-change support plan outlined within the consultation document.

“The first stage of the Preparing for Sustainable Farming programme, involving grants for carbon audits and, particularly, financial help for soil analysis, has been welcomed within the industry and is likely to make a significant contribution to more efficient use of nutrients,” it is stated.

“Unfortunately, there is no further detail in the consultation document of any following support measures.

“The proposals give the impression of simply adding more red tape to further burden farmers, without any clear vision (or proof) of what they will achieve.

“The Government must understand that the future of Scottish agriculture is dependent on the maintenance of sustainable and profitable farms and the associated supply and processing industries.

“This must be the priority. Without a vibrant industry there will be no means to implement the changes that will be required to achieve the goals of Scottish Government’s Vision”.

The Scottish Government consultation opened on August 29 2022 and had been due to be completed during November. The deadline for submissions, however, has been extended to December 5.

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[Agronomy group slams ‘confusing’ Agriculture Bill consultation]

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