The Rettie Ruminant—October 2018
There is an ironic danger for Scottish farmers that the politicisation of the Agriculture Bill is coming at the expense of the people it is supposed to be supporting.
As I write this inaugural post on the Rettie Ruminant blog, Michael Gove’s landmark Agriculture Bill has received its second reading in the House of Commons amid repeated calls from farm industry leaders to put food production and supply at the heart of farming and environmental policy. Yet as MP’s debate the future for British agriculture after the UK leaves the European Union, farmers and land managers north of the border are none the wiser about what future policy and funding framework could be prescribed for the industry in Scotland.
Whilst agriculture is devolved and most of the Bill deals with England, it also includes powers that can be adopted by the devolved administrations to create the frameworks for their new farm subsidy regimes. The Welsh Government and Northern Ireland's Department for Agriculture have asked the UK Government to legislate on their behalf to create this ability.
But SNP ministers chose not to sign up and have so far refused to have a Schedule for Scotland written in to the Bill. This means that a separate bill will need to pass at the Scottish Parliament to achieve the same end.
Whilst it is important that the legislative vehicle that is to deliver a new Scottish agricultural policy after the transition period is bespoke to Scotland’s needs, the political posturing that is preventing this from getting under way is inhibiting farming businesses from planning and preparing for the inevitable changes that are coming. A resolution to the impasse between ministers in Westminster and Holyrood needs to be found to allow future frameworks on policy and funding to be agreed. In the meantime, it is hardly surprising that for Scottish farmers who can see no light at the end of the tunnel, the lack of clarity is creating a huge amount of uncertainty.
Rettie & Co. Farm Agency
Rettie & Co. have recently launched a block of 96 acres of Grade 2 arable farmland and amenity woodland in the Vale of Strathmore (bit.ly/BelmontFarmlands). This comes on the back of a busy 2018 to date, where through a combination of private and public marketing, our Farm Agency team have put £16 million worth of agricultural property under offer.