Agriculture stakeholder group formalises to collaboratively influence policy

20 May 2024

Leading organisations in agriculture, primary food production and land management in Scotland have formalised a stakeholder group to unite as one voice on common objectives as Scotland’s future agriculture policy is defined.


As the Scottish Government’s Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill continues through the Scottish Parliament, the Food and Agriculture Stakeholder Taskforce (FAST) has been formally constituted as a Limited Company. Neil Wilson, executive director of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS), has been appointed as Chair.

FAST was borne initially from growing frustration in the industry about the lack of detail on agricultural policy in Scotland and a lack of broad engagement from Scottish Government with the wider sector to provide input. FAST has met regularly as a discussion group since September 2022, during this time inviting Ministers and other officials involved in developing the future agriculture policy to meet with them.

Further to positive progress made jointly and through productive conversations with Scottish Government, the group was formalised, explains Mr Wilson:

“The aim of FAST is to provide collective leadership and collaboration on common goals for the agriculture and land sector. We are stronger speaking together as one voice on mutual areas of concern and significance where possible. Not only does this allow our asks to be clearly and concisely delivered to Scottish Government but FAST also provides policy makers with a wide range of sector expertise. They can draw on this to help to shape policy that drives rather than undermines the long-term success of agriculture and food production in Scotland.”

FAST has been providing information to MSPs ahead of the amendments being considered at Stage 2 of the Bill during May.

“We are very pleased that members of the Scottish Government have in recent weeks recognised FAST as an important partner in the co-design of future agricultural policy and the Whole Farm Plan,” says Mr Wilson.

With 16 founding members, FAST represents a broad spectrum of organisations from across primary food production in Scotland, collectively representing tens of thousands of members across rural Scotland.

The FAST organisations all originally met in 2022 due to concerns that engagement with the wider sector was not being considered:

“There was real concern in the industry about the potential for unintended consequences and a need for urgent action,” says Mr Wilson. “That has not gone away, but we welcome the open discussions and broader political engagement we are now seeing.

“Despite the slow progress with policy, FAST does acknowledge the recent announcement at the NFUS conference of the then First Minister confirming that at least 70% of future funding will be allocated to tiers 1 and 2 of the new policy structure.

“By including FAST at the sharp end of agricultural policy making in Scotland, those forming this can liaise with us to quickly understand what the impact will be of different policy detail and use this to inform their decisions for a better overall outcome that suits all stakeholders. The potential benefit for both parties is huge and we hope that MSPs will leverage the insights and support those closest to the sector can give. We ultimately all want the same: the right policies in place to drive profitable and sustainable agricultural supply chains and primary food retail in Scotland.”

FAST is hosting a parliamentary reception on Wednesday 22nd May, kindly sponsored by Elena Witham MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, to champion Scottish agriculture within the corridors of power and demonstrate the breadth and depth of the sector across Scotland.

For more information, please contact Susannah at JCM&Co on or 07841 194 897.