LISTEN: Martin Kennedy explains how farmers can help contribute to helping stop climate change
Agricultural union, NFU Scotland have released a policy framework that they say will deliver on Scotland’s aims on food production whilst meeting its biodiversity and climate change goals.
By working with policy experts, NFU Scotland has taken the concepts from the Scottish Government’s Farmer-led Climate Change Groups (FLGs) as well as the NFU’s own ‘Steps to Change’ proposal to design a unique policy framework that will deliver the required outcomes for the future of Scotland.
NFU Scotland President, Martin Kennedy, spoke on the recent announcement and how the framework will affect Highland Perthshire farmers and crofters.
Mr Kennedy said:
“This is about a future agricultural policy that’s going to be fit for Scotland
“We’ve obviously had an awful lot of challenges in front of us – not least Brexit has given us a big challenge, but we now have the opportunity to have a real agricultural policy that’s fit for Scotland.
“As agricultural policy is devolved to the four nations of the UK, then we do have the opportunity to devise a policy that is fit for Scotland.
“There’s been an awful lot of recommendations – there’s been a lot of groups put together on how we meet the challenges in front of us particularly on climate change and biodiversity – we’ve got to meet that target and farmers and crofters are absolutely key in meeting these challenges.
“I think we’ve got to remember where we are already in Scotland and it’s about sustainable food production. We’re actually doing very well with that already in Scotland. We’ve got to remember the environment we already have but that doesn’t mean to say we couldn’t do more.
“Quite often, we get tarred with the same stick as other food producing nations in other parts of the World that maybe don’t have the same care and attention and concerns that we do with the targets we have in front of us with climate change – we need to be net zero by 2045 but right now, we’re not taking into account a lot of the carbon sequestration that happens, the environment we have that agriculture helps with and what we want to do is be part of that solution.
The new report from NFU Scotland (https://www.nfus.org.uk/news/news/delivering-change–a-time-for-action-on-the-future-for-agricultural-policy-in-scotland) is lengthy and detailed and words such as ‘support’, ‘flexibility’, ‘consideration’ and ‘options’ included throughout indicate the level of care and concern taken by the union on behalf of an industry they themselves are part of and want to see prosper.
The basis for support is ‘how’ production is undertaken, rather than ‘how much’, and such an approach will continue to safeguard the rural economy whilst also meeting and recognising the urgency of tackling emissions and addressing biodiversity loss.
The proposals raised, says NFU Scotland, will deliver on food production, climate change and biodiversity ambitions simultaneously.
Farmer and NFU President, Mr Kennedy continued:
“This is the time for action as the clock is already ticking.
“Scottish agriculture needs direction on a future agricultural policy framework that can enable a ‘just transition’ from where we are today to where we need to be in just a few short years.
“NFU Scotland, working with policy experts, the Farmer-Led Group recommendations and our own ‘Steps to Change’ policy vision has set out a clear transition to a robust and credible Scottish agricultural policy in the future that will initiate and enable change and, crucially, ensure delivery of the food, climate and biodiversity outcomes expected from our industry.
“Critical to success in agriculture delivering against Scotland’s ambitious climate, biodiversity and food sector ambitions is an appreciation by all, in particular Scottish Government, that action is required now to instigate change.
“In the void of alternative models for policy delivery, the approach we are advocating has the backing of the industry and will ensure that farming and crofting across Scotland meets environmental and climate challenges in a uniquely Scottish way while still delivering high quality, sustainable food production that underpins our food and drink sector and maintains the social and economic fabric of our rural areas.
“Our message to Scottish Government is that kick-starting change within the industry is required now so that farmers and crofters can start adjusting their systems and businesses through a transition phase to 2025 prior to a new Scottish agricultural policy being implemented. What is set out and achieved in the transition will determine success or failure in Scottish agriculture from 2026 onwards.” For more information, please visit the NFU website at: https://www.nfus.org.uk/