Lothian and Borders Regional Chairman's Blog - 7 August 2019

Environmental and food policy – the trick is finding the right key to make it work writes Lothian and Borders Regional Chairman Kelvin Pate.

Sitting in the garage waiting for a new spare key for my pickup to be made and coded, I couldn’t help but think that the process has its similarities to any future environmental and food policy for agriculture.

Without a key you can’t turn on the ignition but, without the key being coded, it can’t speak to the pickup truck’s management system and it just won’t go.

In the past, environmental and food policies have been dropped on farmers in various schemes because someone somewhere thought that was what was required.  They had a key but didn’t realise that it had to start a different vehicle on each individual farm.

Every farm in Scotland has a unique ecosystem that can produce anything from soft fruit, potatoes, veg and cereals to beef, milk, chicken, eggs and lamb.

The crops and produce have a reflexion on wildlife but for wildlife to flourish, the crops and produce going forward need to be profitable.

The UK is between 50 and 60 percent self-sufficient in food.  So in those areas where food that is currently imported can be grown here, policies should promote green production at our standards which will safeguard jobs and the food supply.

The target of being carbon neutral by 2045 is a great aim but increasing our self-sufficiency in food must not count as a negative in these calculations.  Relying on imports going forward could be risky, opening farmers and consumers to more volatile food prices as we become reliant on other countries surpluses.

Having a spare key kept my pickup truck mobile.  Opening a door is one thing but if you can’t communicate to industry what you are trying to achieve, then the engine won’t start, and you get nowhere.

Hopefully, the powers that be realise this and don’t end up having to use jump leads to revive food production in this country.

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Lorraine G Luescher

126 days ago

Well written Kelvin. An interesting analogy!
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