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Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 13th February 2020.

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George Burgess:

From the Scottish Government’s perspective, the Bill is something of a curate’s egg. The provisions that we like include the red meat levy provision, which we played a large part in developing at the outset. We very much welcome that, and we would like to see a commitment from the UK Government to its swift implementation.

Other provisions in the Bill on food security and fertilisers make a great deal of sense, but we have some difficulties with others, including the livestock information provision, which has already been mentioned. Again, the concern is really about governance and the appropriate role of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments.

Similarly, the organics clause to some extent recognises devolved competences, but we are concerned about the power that is given to the Secretary of State to act in devolved areas without seeking the consent of the Scottish Parliament. Other concerns of long standing from the previous Bill relate to producer organisations, the World Trade Organisation agreement on agriculture, and fair dealing in supply chains, where we have a very different view on devolved competence from DEFRA.