Scottish food industry calls ‘emergency’ meeting to discuss bill consultation

Scottish food industry calls ‘emergency’ meeting to discuss bill consultation

Eighteen stakeholder organisations across Scotland’s food supply chain attended an ‘emergency’ meeting at Stirling Agricultural Centre to discuss a bill consultation published by the government at the end of August.

According to a government statement, the consultation seeks views on the proposals and powers that the Scottish Ministers require to “transform how [they] support farming and food production in Scotland to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.”

The consultation said: “The new Agriculture Bill will aim to provide Scotland with a framework to support and work with [producers] to meet more of our food needs sustainably and to farm and croft with nature.”

The stakeholder meeting on the consultation was attended by organisations including the National Beef Association (NBA), Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

Other attendees included:

  • NFU Scotland
  • National Sheep Association Scotland (NSA Scotland)
  • Scottish Beef Association (SBA)
  • Scottish Craft Butchers 
  • Scottish Pig Producers (SPP)

The Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS) executive director Neil Wilson, who called and chaired the meeting, said the “rhetoric and mood in the industry is changing.”

According to the IAAS, the discussion centred on Scottish government’s “dysfunctional” stakeholder engagement and “perceived dearth” of understanding of the pragmatic needs of the industry.   

Wilson added: “The fact that we had so many influential industry organisations at the meeting, at short notice, shows that there is a need for urgent action.”

Lack of communication

Wilson explained the reason for “frustration” surrounding the latest consultation is that more clarity and direction was expected for members, and its context and content suggests that Scottish Government is “not connected with the current issues on the ground.”

He said: “Its policies could have unintended consequences, including negatively impacting food security and the future of agricultural production and the farmed environment in Scotland.”

According to Wilson, the “vacuum” left by a lack of communication from the Agricultural Reform Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB) in combination with “a 10-month hiatus” since the government’s own Agricultural and Rural Development (ARD) Stakeholder Group last met, has created “tangible tension in the industry.”

Wilson said that the meeting was “positive” and “constructive”, and that attendees learned a lot; including insights into the workings of the ARIOB, as well as information on how stakeholders can start discussions and act on “the big issues” with Scottish and UK governments.

Going forward

Wilson has invited cabinet secretaries to meet with the group as he says that there is “real urgency” for Scottish government to engage with stakeholders.

He said: “Through constructive dialogue, we can support a future strategy that protects food security, food production and Scotland’s agricultural supply chain which contributes significantly to the country’s economy, whilst delivering for the environment and biodiversity.

“If we get the legislation wrong now, the repercussions will be felt for generations.”

Previous / Next posts...

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *