The Agriculture Bill was published on 16 January 2020 and is the reintroduction of a UK Government Bill from the previous Parliamentary session.
Leaving the European Union means that the UK will no longer be part of the EU Common Agricultural Policy. This has necessitated the development of new agricultural policies across the UK. The stated purpose of the Bill is to “establish a new agricultural system based on the principle of public money for public goods for the next generation of farmers and land managers.”
It proposes to achieve this by making provision to:
- ensure that funding can be provided for agriculture and related activities;
- set out the future of direct payments once the UK leaves the EU;
- provide for support for agriculture in exceptional market conditions;
- allow for retained EU law to be amended;
- report on UK food security;
- provide for the collection and use of data from the agricultural supply chain;
- allow for regulations to be made on fair dealing within the supply chain, marketing standards, organic products and classification of carcasses;
- allow for the recognition of producer associations and set out their exemption from competition law;
- allow requirements to be set for fertilisers;
- create processes for the identification and traceability of animals;
- allow for schemes to be set up to redistribute the Red Meat Levy between the four UK nations;
- make changes to rules on agricultural tenancies; and
- allow regulations to be made with regard to UK compliance with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture
Lead Committee: Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee
A full SPICe briefing on the Bill is available.
SPICe has also produced a blog article on the original LCM.
Legislative Consent Memorandum
The UK Government has sought legislative consent from the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government lodged a Legislative Consent Memorandum on 4 May 2020, which included a draft motion to consent to the Bill.
The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee published its report on the UK Agriculture Bill and LCM on 15 May 2020. In its report, the Committee recommended that the Scottish Parliament agrees to the draft motion.
The Scottish Government published a supplementary LCM on 18 August 2020. This highlights amendments to the Bill following further work by the Scottish and UK Governments to refine provisions on organic products and animal identification and traceability. The supplemental LCM includes a revised draft motion to consent to the Bill.
The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee published its report on the supplementary LCM on 28 August 2020, recommending that the Scottish Parliament agrees to the revised draft motion.