Although many aspects of agriculture are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, there are still many areas where Westminster has influence. This is especially the case during Brexit, as many policy areas are being returned to our parliaments from Brussels.
The Agriculture Bill is at present passing through the House of Commons. As of the 19th of October it is at its second reading stage.
The Agriculture Bill has now passed through its second reading. I fully support the idea of this bill, and I hope to see the Scottish Government adopt aspects of it into devolved law, following the example of Wales and N.Ireland.
However, there are a couple of aspects that I would like change in before this bill is passed. Firstly, I would like to change the Red Meat levy, which currently sees Scottish animals slaughtered in England and the levy kept with the English slaughterhouse. I would like the levy to be returned to the Scottish farmer, which would be a great investment in our farms and support our farmers.
I have also raised the inaction of the Scottish Government over the issue of post-Brexit agriculture. Scottish farmers have been left in limbo as the Scottish Government have not proposed any replacement for the Common Agricultural Policy. I am in disbelief over the Scottish Government rejecting an offer from the UK government to extend powers from the Agricultural Bill to Scotland, which would no doubt be advantageous to our farmers. The Scottish Government must realise that food and farming is the bedrock of our economy and environment, generating £112 billion a year and helping shape some of our finest habitats and landscapes.
Policies included in the Agriculture bill would give small farmers financial rewards for protecting their local Environment, and would secure investment into equipment and infrastructure for new entrants into this sector. Stirling farms would be a beneficiary to this bill.
Starting from first principles we can bring in innovative new ideas to support investment in healthy, sustainable British food production and do much better for farming, the environment and animal welfare. We must take this opportunity to use public money to reward environmentally-responsible land use, as well as maintaining and enhancing high standards of animal welfare. I am convinced that we will harness this opportunity and ensure that our best days as a food and farming nation lie ahead of us.