LISTEN: Martin Kennedy shares his experience at COP26
A Highland Perthshire farmer spoke of his “tremendous” experience from attending COP26 and meeting with other agriculture representatives from around the world, highlighting the current position of agriculture in Scotland and where the industry must go in the future.
Aberfeldy’s Martin Kennedy, President of NFUS (The National Farmers’ Union of Scotland) took to the stage with the three other NFU Presidents from the UK on #FARMERSDAY at the event highlighting that farmers and crofters from Britain are already on their journey towards a sustainable and productive future, growing their ability to produce climate-friendly food at the same time as protecting nature and the planet.
Mr Kennedy said:
“When you’re speaking to people from other parts of the world…It was a really wet day and we’re always complaining about the rain in Scotland, but other parts of the world would give their right arm for having the water we’ve got here. We take it for granted.
“Yes, we know we’re gonna have to do more. Agriculture is continuing to go on using science and technology, trying to drive down emissions – that’s already happening. And yes, we can do more but listening to people from other parts of the world that was a real reality check.
“When you see what’s happening in other parts of the world, when they struggle to get food on the table and we talk about crime and we’re worried about you know fly tipping, which is a massive issue in some parts of Scotland, we’re worried about, you know, bikes and pickups and theft from farms, but you know speaking to some that are worried about their lives you know.
Whilst Mr Kennedy acknowledges the great strides made in farming and agriculture here in Scotland, he explained there is still room to grow and that when discussing criminal activity in the industry with others globally, his perspective shifted.
Mr Kennedy explained: “In particular, speaking to Theo Dejager, who’s the World Farming Organisation President and just in a chance part of the conversation was they had a meal with him at night and we said ‘crime can be a bit of a problem with us’ and he said well it’s quite a bit of a problem with us as well are you have younger farmers are out patrolling at nights and we thought they were just making sure people weren’t stealing things, but no in South Africa, for example, there’s a farmer murdered every five days and you think woah, This is challenging, you know.
Mr Kennedy also explained his own personal hopes for the changes that COP might inspire and that it wouldn’t just be a “talking shop”, adding:
“I thought COP was gonna be another talking shop and once it’s passed, we will get back to normal again and I wasn’t sure what engagement we would get.
“After the engagement we were involved in I thought it was a tremendous event to be quite honest. It really focused the world’s attention on climate change, yes most definitely, but also sort of sustainable food production.
“I think Scotland is, you know, we’ve got a bit to go yet, but in terms of from a global perspective, we’re starting off from a really good position in Scotland.
“We’ve got soils that our animal sector are really looking after in doing more or putting cover crops in there using real technology to look after soil health because soil is our biggest carbon sink by a long way.
“It heartened me that the fact that people were so concerned about the availability of food and we’ve got a growing world population and they’re gonna have to be fed and as long as we can do that sustainably here in Scotland.”
You can read more about what Martin Kennedy and the NFUS at COP26