THE farmer’s union NFU Scotland have welcomed the announcement that farmer-led group recommendations will drive future policy.
Last week the Scottish government confirmed the creation of the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board to drive forward recommendations following pioneering work undertaken by Scotland’s five farmer-led climate change groups.
The work was aimed at driving the nation’s future agricultural policy suggestions for suckler beef, dairy, pigs, arable, hill farming, uplands and crofting.
It set out a clear industry-backed roadmap on how Scottish agriculture could deliver sustainable, profitable agricultural production.
One which contributes to the nation’s ambitious food and drink sector targets and meet the growing challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.
A publication from the union followed in July refining these concepts and principles along with their own ‘Steps to Change’ proposals.
It designed a Scottish future agricultural policy framework that NFU Scotland’s President, Martin Kennedy has agreed to co-chair the board of alongside cabinet secretary for rural affairs and islands Mairi Gougeon.
“We have been clear and consistent in our message to government that the time for talking is over and the time for delivery on a new agricultural policy for Scotland is now,” said Mr Kennedy.
“In the past four years, NFU Scotland, through publication of our ‘change’ documents, has driven that debate recognising the need for change.
“Across all sectors, there will be difficult choices ahead and I want to see policies implemented that support all farmers and crofters, enabling them to be profitable and sustainable whilst delivering on our obligation to reduce our carbon footprint and bolster our natural environment.”
The board will deliver an agreement on a national test programme in time for the Gaugeon 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26.
It will be held in Glasgow in November with the scheme in place by spring 2022.
Building on the work of the suckler beef climate group, livestock, and specifically beef farmers, will be in the vanguard of the programme and will be invited to participate first.
Mr Kennedy added that the biggest priority of the union was a future agricultural policy that delivered for Scotland.
“I share the same vision as the cabinet secretary for a prosperous farming sector where an agricultural policy will meet the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss,” he said.
“I would like to have seen all farmer-led climate change group chairs as part of this implementation group but for those not involved, I give them my reassurance that I will hold Scottish government to account on delivery.
“I am committed to making this process work, but I won’t hesitate to walk if I believe our ambitions are being stifled or if the drive to put in place what our fantastic farming industry needs starts to fail.”