Farming leaders from across all sectors have united to condemn what they call the Scottish Government’s “dysfunctional” engagement and dearth of understanding of the industry’s needs.
Growing impatience with the lack of detail in the government’s Agriculture Bill consultation prompted the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS) to trigger an emergency gathering of 18 farming organisations and commit to monthly meetings for the foreseeable future.
IAAS executive director Neil Wilson said the changing rhetoric and industry mood required an urgent need for action.
“The frustration around the latest consultation is that we were expecting more clarity and direction for our members, but its context and content suggests that the Scottish Government is not connected with the current issues on the ground and its policies could have unintended consequences, including negatively impacting food security and the future of agricultural production and the farmed environment in Scotland,” he said after the meeting.
“This is part of a bigger issue around the Scottish Government’s dysfunctional and broken stakeholder engagement.”
He said a lack of communication from the Agricultural Reform Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB) and a 10-month hiatus since the government’s own Agricultural and Rural Development Stakeholder Group last met had created a vacuum and a “tangible tension” in the industry.
“We had a positive, constructive meeting and we’ve all learned a lot, including insights into the workings of the ARIOB as well as how we can jointly have positive discussion and take action on the big issues with the Scottish and UK governments,” he added.
“Against a backdrop of wider economic challenges and their compound effect, we would like to invite cabinet secretaries to meet with this group.
“If we get the legislation wrong now, the repercussions will be felt for generations.”