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SLE slam delays in farm support plan

SLOW PROGRESS: Landowners are calling for a role in farm policy discussions.

Scotland’s landowners have criticised the slow progress of the committee tasked with developing new proposals for farm support – and demanded a place at the table.

Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) launched its updated strategy for future farming policy at the Royal Highland Show, and called for reform of the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board (Ariob) which is co-chaired by Rural Secretary Mairi Gougeon and NFU Scotland (NFUS) president Martin Kennedy.

SLE was snubbed by not being included in the original make-up of the Ariob, but the organisation’s chief executive Sarah-Jane Laing told a briefing that wasn’t the only reason they were calling for change.

“We made representation all along, we wanted to be part of those discussions, but we are concerned about the lack of progress it’s making, whether we are part of it or not,” she said.

“SLE and its members are best placed to help steer and provide advice on how integrated land use can deliver. There are also respected experts and academics who are working in parallel who could be involved.”

SLE’s policy adviser on agriculture and climate change, Paul Richardson, said: “When the Scottish Government committed to the Ariob, it was supposed to be around reducing livestock emissions, and that objective reflects some of the individuals and expertise on the group. I’d argue that hasn’t really been the focus and now looking ahead to the Agriculture Bill, the Ariob needs to change and become more widespread.

“To do that effectively, the membership needs to be reviewed to reflect wider land use.”

SLE’s other “immediate asks” include the Scottish Government quickly introducing standard methodology around carbon audits, and a biodiversity assessment tool to help farmers and land managers establish baselines ahead of new policy.

They also call for a start to reforming the Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID), making a transition from inspection and enforcement to an advisory capacity.

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