Wednesday was a significant day for Scottish farmers as the UK Government’s landmark Agriculture Act received Royal Assent.
We are now free from the EU Common Agriculture Policy after years of overly bureaucratic policy dictated to our farmers by Brussels.
Of course, much of agricultural policy is devolved to the Scottish Government and this Act does not impinge on this. We will continue to work with Scottish Government on areas of common interest.
This Act is an incredible achievement and one which should be welcomed by all those responsible for world-class Scottish produce making its way from farms here to forks across the globe.
This is a game-changing moment – we have delivered a vital piece of legislation which will help ensure that Scotland flourishes outside of the EU.
Help for farmers
Coming from a farming background, I fully understand the importance of this Act.
This Act has been scrutinised by members in both the House of Commons and House of Lords, which has been very helpful to ensure the Act is fit for purpose for the wide range of issues it covers.
I have also held regular discussions with representatives from Scotland’s excellent food and drink sector to ensure their voices are being heard.
The government has listened and made changes where appropriate including publishing food security reports at least once every three years, rather than every five years as originally envisaged.
In an increasingly uncertain world, this will help us to understand everything about how people access food; from global availability to the resilience of the supply chain and household spending.
Leaving the EU has also given us the opportunity of agreeing trade deals with countries from around the world as an independent nation.
For the first time in decades we can set our own tariffs based on the needs of our economy.
Important for recovery
Scottish produce is famous across the globe and highly sought after. We want trade deals that open new opportunities for farmers to sell their brilliant products – including to some of the world’s biggest consumer markets.
These deals will be extremely important to our economy as we seek to recover from the Covid pandemic.
As we negotiate these deals we have made sure the voices of our farmers, as well as those of consumers and key environmental and animal welfare groups are heard.
We have extended and strengthened the Trade and Agriculture Commission, which includes representatives from Scotland.
They will produce a report on the impact on animal welfare and agriculture of each free trade deal – giving Parliamentarians access to independent and expert advice.
A world leader
The UK Government has been clear we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.
We are a world leader in these areas and that will not change. We are happy to be held to account on our promises to farmers.
Agriculture is one of Scotland’s biggest success stories and the UK Government has worked hard to pass the Agricultural Act and negotiate free trade agreements with countries around the world – bringing a wealth of new markets to our sector.
David Duguid MP is the Conservative member for Banff and Buchan and under Secretary of State in the Scotland Office.