SAOS calls for co-op-friendly farming reforms from Scottish government

Co-operation is mentioned in the consultation for the post-Brexit Agriculture Bill and the apex is urging its members to join the consultation

In its autumn update to members, the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) has given a mixed response to progress on the Scottish government’s agriculture bill.

The bill is looking to create a post-Brexit framework for the agri sector, with farmers taken out of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and its system of subsidies. The plan is to introduce payments and schemes that are developed in Scotland for Scottish farming, rather than being rooted in CAP legacy policies.

SAOS, the umbrella organisation for Scotland’s agri co-op sector, sits on Scotland’s Agricultural Reform Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB) and says it is pushing for “quicker, bolder reforms that will encourage more co-operation and support co-op business operations”, adding: “We are gaining traction but progress is slow.”

It says that thanks to its input there are positive signs, with co-ops are “specifically referenced as entities that could be eligible recipients of support”.

The consultation also acknowledges that new specific funding mechanisms for the agri-food sector will be necessary including financial support for “Agri-food co-operation”.

SAOS adds that the consultation refers to co-op working in terms of optimising collaboration and knowledge exchange, and there is also mention of collaboration within wider rural development.

“These may appear only to be small wins,” it says, “but if these elements are enshrined in the enabling legislation then this becomes the skeleton upon which co-operation supportive schemes and funding can follow.

“We urge all our members and stakeholders to participate in this consultation and provide proactive feedback on these and other areas that underpin a new, positive future for co-operation and co-op businesses.“

The consultation on the bill can be found here.

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