Plan to implement sustainable farming vision is unveiled

Scotland’s domestic agricultural policy took a step closer to realisation yesterday with the announcement of an implementation board to take forward plans for sustainable farming based on the Climate Change Plan Update and the Farmer-led Groups recommendations, alongside industry reports, the Scottish Government yesterday announced.

Mairi Gougeon: net zero is the goal
Mairi Gougeon: net zero is the goal

Individuals representing land based businesses covering a range offarming, geographical and environmental interests have been appointed to the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB), co-chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, Mairi Gougeon, and NFUS President Martin Kennedy.

Gougeon said that the group would place farmers and crofters at theheart of a future support framework and help Scottish agriculture become more economically and environmentally sustainable and indicated that apreliminary package of funded measures should be agreed before the COP26 conference in November, while the paper setting out the proposals for a future Agriculture Bill will be published and consulted on in 2022.

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The work of the ARIOB group will be based on the Farmer-led Groups, there will be an early focus on livestock emissions in particular the detailed work taken forward to a more advanced stage by the Suckler Beef Group.

“This work should quickly reach as many farms and crofts as possible and ultimately, will assist all parts of Scottish agriculture as Scotlandprogresses to net zero,” said Gougeon.

The group will be supported throughout its lifetime by an expandedScottish Government Academic Advisory panel that will draw on the best available science, knowledge and expertise and grow the evidence base.

There will also be a wider consultation building on the recommendations from the Farmer-led Groups, setting out a number of key questions on the recommendations which are intended to inform wider work on thedevelopment of agricultural policy and the replacement to CAP.

Welcoming the announcements, 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 agriculturalpolicy for Scotland is now. The reason I have agreed to co-chair this group is to ensure that delivery happens."

He said the Suckler Beef group’s work was at the most advanced stage, and welcomed the commitment that the national scheme that this implementation group was to deliver would be open to all beef farmers.

“Across all sectors, there will be difficult choices ahead and I want tosee policies implemented that support all farmers and crofters, enablingthem to be profitable and sustainable whilst delivering on our obligation to reduce our carbon footprint and bolster our natural environment.

"I share the same vision as the Cabinet Secretaryfor a prosperous farming sector where an agricultural policy will meetthe challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.”

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Kennedy also said that timescales had been set for the implementationgroup to deliver a national test programme and he wanted to see that inplace and on time.