Union Welcomes Announcement That Farmer Led Group Recommendations Are To Drive Future Policy

NFU Scotland has welcomed the announcement that the pioneering work undertaken by Scotland’s Farmer-led Climate Change groups will drive the nation’s future agricultural policy.

The five Farmer-led Climate Change Groups (FLGs) established by Scottish Government published their recommendations for suckler beef, dairy, pigs, arable, hill farming, uplands and crofting in March.  They each set out a clear industry-backed roadmap on how Scottish agriculture could deliver sustainable, profitable agricultural production that contributes to the nation’s ambitious food and drink sector targets and meet the growing challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Working with policy experts, NFU Scotland launched a publication in July that distilled the concepts and principles from the five FLGs and the Union’s own ‘Steps to Change’ proposals to design a uniquely Scottish future agricultural policy framework.

In keeping with its 100-days in Government commitment, Scottish Government has today (25 August) confirmed the creation of the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board to drive forward the FLG recommendations.  NFU Scotland’s President, Martin Kennedy has agreed to co-chair that board alongside Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands Mairi Gougeon.

The board will deliver an agreement on a national test programme in time for the CoP26 climate change event being hosted 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.

NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy said: “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.  The reason I have agreed to co-chair this group is to ensure that delivery happens.
“In the past four years, NFU Scotland, through publication of our ‘change’ documents, has driven that debate recognising the need for change. In July, working with leading academics, we pulled together the recommendations of all five farmer-led groups into a cohesive vision for future agricultural policy in Scotland.
“The Suckler Beef group’s work was at the most advanced stage, and we welcome the commitment that the national scheme that this implementation group is to deliver will be open to all beef farmers.  That is welcome progress and a clear commitment to delivering on industry-led 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.
“I am on record as stating that the time for talk is over and now is the time to deliver.  That is why I have agreed to co-chair the implementation group.  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.
“I would like to have seen all FLG 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. Timescales have been set for the implementation group to deliver a national test programme and I want to see that in place and on time.
“A future agricultural policy that delivers for Scotland is the biggest priority of this Union.  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.”

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