Continuing CAP for Scotland’s farmers
Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill passes Stage 3.
The Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill has passed Stage 3, following a debate in the Scottish Parliament.
The Bill creates powers that enable Scottish Ministers to ensure the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can continue beyond this year, as well as retaining the ability to make improvements to the scheme following Brexit.
It also improves the legal basis for collecting information about the agri-food supply chain and activities relating to agriculture.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
“This Bill puts in place the legal framework to allow us to take action to streamline, simplify and free up resources to pilot and test activities likely to feature in a future farming and rural support policy beyond 2024.
“The ongoing uncertainty of Brexit and the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) show how important it is to give our farmers and crofters financial stability in the next few years. This Bill is the first step to ensure that we secure the ability to continue to operate CAP schemes from 2021 - this includes the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme, Knowledge Transfer and Innovation and Small Farmers Grant Scheme.
“The Bill also provides Scotland with the opportunity to make the improvements that are tailored to suit our unique agricultural and rural needs. I am pleased this has the backing of the Scottish Parliament, allowing us to have these powers in place for 2021.
“We will continue to press the UK Government to adhere to their commitment to the Scottish rural economy that EU funding would be replaced. It is crucial that they make a clear statement on future funding for all aspects covered by the CAP to provide certainty and reassurance to the whole rural economy.”
As a result of the UK decision to leave the EU, the EU CAP will cease to apply, but the existing CAP architecture and rules will be transferred into domestic law, via the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) Act 2020. The Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill, gives Scottish Ministers the opportunity to modify that retained EU law.
With the Bill passed work is underway to ensure the necessary secondary legislation is in place for those schemes to be available in 2021.
The Scottish Government has set out an approach to provide Scottish farmers, crofters, foresters, rural businesses and rural communities a transition period to provide as much stability and security as possible following the UK ‘s departure from the EU which is additionally important in the wake of COVID-19.
Stability and Simplicity was published in June 2018 outlining proposals for a five year transition period for farming and rural support in the event of Brexit. This consultation proposed that the majority of CAP schemes would continue but could be subject to simplification and improvements. More detail on each scheme will be provided in due course.
The Bill does not set out the future direction of Scottish rural support policy, or completely reform existing policy. This work is being undertaken by the Farming and Food Production Future Policy Group that was announced at the Royal Highland Show in 2019.