Agricultural transition in Scotland

Closed 17 Nov 2021

Opened 25 Aug 2021

Feedback updated 26 Aug 2022

We asked

On 25th August 2021, the Scottish Government published the ‘Agricultural Transition in Scotland: first steps towards our national policy’ consultation, seeking views on number of key questions intended to inform wider work on the development of agricultural policy and in particular the replacement to CAP.

The consultation covered themes identified by the Farmer Led Groups (FLGs), which were established to develop advice and proposals to the Scottish Government on emissions reduction.

The FLGs made proposals accross a number of topics, including: Baselining, Capital Funding, Biodiversity, Just Transition, Sequestration, Productivity, Research & Development, Knowledge & Skills and Supply Chains.

You said

There were 314 responses to the consultation. Of these, the majority (224) were received from individuals, and 90 were received from groups/organisations.

In summary, respondents said:

  1. There was a clear consensus that agricultural businesses which receive financial support from the Scottish Government should be required to undertake baseline data collection, and that data should be collated nationally. This was considered vital to monitoring progress, useful for future planning, and necessary to drive action and policy development. There were, however, calls for data collection to be straightforward and reflect the diversity of farm types, and for clear and accessible training and guidance for farmers on how to collect and use the data. Some questioned if productivity is the best measure of success, arguing that environmental and biodiversity improvements, profitability and efficiency should also be considered.
  2. Respondents were clear that capital funding should be provided for items with a clear link to wider environmental improvement, and not solely to items which reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This included items which could improve biodiversity, land, soil and crop management. Several suggested funding for actions which may improve food production or business efficiency and productivity, given the latter could indirectly reduce emissions.
  3. Many actions to enhance biodiversity were proposed, with the vast majority agreeing this should be incentivised. Views were mixed on the role of forestry, grazing and livestock numbers in carbon sequestration, and there was clear support for the protection of peatland. There were calls for sectoral guidance on land use change, and for a joined-up approach to land use planning. The commercial, environmental and socio-economic benefits to agriculture of a Just Transition were cited. Respondents also highlighted the challenges of funding the actions required, of overcoming established attitudes and practices, and a lack of knowledge and skills in the sector. 
  4. Most attached a high level of importance to knowledge exchange, skills development and innovation in agriculture, and there was widespread support for further research. Various forms of education were suggested, including individualised support, peer-to-peer knowledge exchange and improved information and advisory services. Mixed views were evident over whether CPD should be mandatory for businesses receiving public support.
  5. The green credentials of Scottish produce could be enhanced through shortening supply chains, encouraging consumers to shop locally, and having clear, transparent product labelling. While some supported a role for farm assurance, others disagreed.

We did

An analysis of the responses to the ‘Agricultural Transition in Scotland: first steps towards our national policy’ consultation has been produced.

Initial analysis of the responses have informed the upcoming Statutory Consultation on the proposals for the Agriculture Bill. The responses will provide a useful evidence base for the Scottish Government and the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB) to draw on when developing the Agriculture Bill.

Results updated 26 Aug 2022

A consultation analysis report was produced which provides an analysis of the responses received to the Agricultural Transition in Scotland consultation. This analysis is available on the Scottish Government website.


Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


Following on from the period of simplicity and stability we are moving forward to put in place a successor to the Common Agriculture Policy that will guide farming, food production and land use for many years to come. 

Our approach will support farmers and crofters to ensure their economic sustainability as we deal with the twin global emergencies of climate change and biodiversity whilst also continuing to produce high quality food. Reforming our approach to land use and management will be core to delivering all the requirements set by Parliament for Scotland’s efforts to reach Net Zero.

Whilst change is needed it needs to be fair and equitable and set out in the terms of a Just Transition that ensures a sustainable future for a reformed agriculture sector. It needs to be open to the opportunities to adopt new approach to policies for agriculture and food production and realise our collective desire to ensure Scottish policy, regulatory and funding frameworks will enable investment in rural businesses and rural communities. This will enable them to lower emissions from production, be profitable, efficient and productive whilst playing their part as land managers to tackle climate change and enhance biodiversity.

To help deliver a new successful framework a number of Farmer Led Groups, that covered the suckler beef, arable, dairy and pig sectors as well as the hill, upland farming and crofting sectors (including the sheep sector), were established at various points between Spring 2020 and December 2020 to recommend ways farmers and crofters could consider the effects of land use change and cut their emissions to help tackle climate change.

Why your views matter

Read the consultation paper. 

Our consultation paper provides an overview of the key themes and recommendations emerging from the Farmer Led Group process.  The paper also sets out a number of key questions on the groups recommendations which are intended to inform wider work on the development of agricultural policy and in particular the replacement to CAP.

It forms part of a fully participative model that will gather responses to published papers and through workshops that will be facilitated towards stimulating further ideas over the coming months.

We will then report on this participative model of consultation, to contextualise it towards deliverability, and to seek insight and guidance from the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board” (ARIOB) who will offer oversight of our thinking and provide an advisory role directly to the Cabinet Secretary.

A key role of the ARIOB will be to challenge the Scottish Government to ensure that the future shape of support lives up to our vision, is truly capable of bringing about the change that is needed and does so in a user-centred way that recognises the need to have a Just Transition towards a Green Economy.

This ARIOB will support and inform the development of the Statutory Consultation that we will seek to publish in 2022 and that will set-out our full rationale and proposals for a future Agriculture Bill.


  • Environment and Climate Change
  • Farming and Rural