Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill Assessment Published

Arial shot of Spraying potato fields in Moray
Alan Robertson

Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, has signed off the 'Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill - Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment'. 

The new Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill aims to provide the legal framework to deliver:

  • the Scottish Government's Vision for Agriculture;
  • the National Performance Framework outcomes;
  • Programme for Government and Bute House draft shared policy programme priorities;
  • emissions and nature restoration targets;
  • building on minimum regulatory standards;
  • Just Transition which supports agriculture, land integration and land use change in a way that follows the Just Transition principles;
  • value for money; and
  • broad alignment to EU CAP objectives.

The primary purpose of this Bill is to (i) provide the Scottish Ministers with the necessary powers to manage and in due course replace the current retained EU law Common Agricultural Policy framework for agriculture and land use support; and (ii) provide Scottish Ministers with the powers to deliver the Scottish Government's Vision for Agriculture. It also provides the Scottish Ministers with powers to make provision for continuing professional development (CPD) for farmers, crofters, land managers and other persons, and to continue support for wider rural development.


The Scottish Government's Vision for Agriculture, published in March 2022, outlines the long term vision to transform how farming and food production in is supported in Scotland and support it to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

After the UK withdrawal from the EU on 31 January 2020, the Scottish Government's priority for agriculture and rural development was to provide stability and security for producers, land managers, and business. In 2020, the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Act was enacted to allow the Scottish Ministers to ensure that EU CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) payments and schemes could continue to be effective for a period of stability and simplicity after EU-exit.

In August 2022, the Scottish Government ran a public consultation titled 'Delivering our Vision for Scottish Agriculture: Proposals for a new Agriculture Bill'. This consultation set out proposals to deliver the Scottish Government's Vision for Agriculture. The Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill will aim to provide Scotland with a framework to deliver high quality food production, climate mitigation and adaptation, nature protection and restoration, and wider rural development.


As result of this assessment there will be no changes made to the proposed bill. 

The Bill introduces empowering provisions to offer financial support to businesses for various specified purposes, including responding to exceptional or unforeseen circumstances in the sector. These powers already encompass benefits to the broader community by supporting businesses that contribute to economic stability, growth, and job creation.

The Bill does not go into actual definitions, schemes, or budgetary allocations - these key policy elements will be determined during the implementation phase.  However, where appropriate, there will be engagement with stakeholders and consideration of the detail of those particular changes in light of the Fairer Scotland Duty.

You can find the full assessment here