NextGen focus on Green recovery - 20 November 2020

The roller coaster that has been 2020 continues to give us some unexpected twists and turns and we must make sure that farming’s role in our green recovery isn’t derailed writes Pete Moss, chair of NFU Scotland’s Next Generation Group.

With another week of amazing political news stories, and foot firmly on the accelerator towards Brexit, as an industry we are none the wiser on what direction the tracks will take us.

Pandemics and politics may have dominated headlines this year but do not be fooled as one of the greatest challenges to Scottish agriculture is still looming.

The Climate Change and Biodiversity crises will be the biggest influencers on how we farm in the future, as we respond to the challenge of reaching Net Zero emissions across the country and halting biodiversity loss. Scottish agriculture has a key role to play in helping the country achieve ambitious emissions reductions targets.

This week Boris Johnson announced his 10-point plan on how the country will invest in green measures to pull its way out of the financial black hole we are circling around.

Whilst I welcome some of the points, farming was notable by its absence, with only number 9 on the list stating that 30,000 hectares of trees per year will be planted and 21,000 hectares of land will be rewilded. This lack of direction and disregard for the agriculture Industry needs to be addressed.  Blanket planting of trees and importing the food that could have been grown that land instead is not a solution.  It is fobbing the problem off to somewhere else.

Before Covid-19 filled the news, many felt that farming was being blamed for many of the world’s climate problems.  We still face challenges with the way climate metrics are counted and are used by a few to paint farmers as reckless greenhouse gas emitters.

Industry is responding to these claims by taking up the climate change challenge and becoming a more resilient, efficient and climate friendly industry.

Agriculture and food production are firmly on the public radar and we have a platform to reply to the accusations thrown at us. NFU Scotland has commissioned reports that present the facts and can combat many of the unfair claims against us.

The public want high quality food, but they also want it to be produced in an environmentally friendly manner that benefits our soils, water and wildlife. Delivering on this presents huge opportunities for the sector.

Emissions from livestock has been vilified by many groups (many of whom have links to fake meat investors) but their overly simplified accusations of gas pumping out of cows doesn’t tell the amazing story of the carbon cycle, or how methane breaks down into carbon which is absorbed by plants to lay down roots.

Even our humble grasslands have a fantastic ability to lock up carbon in our soils. And ruminant livestock are the key to unlocking the potential of the microbial populations that live and grow our soil organic matter.

We will have to make changes to make sure we are part of the solution to tackling climate change but, with the right support from Governments, our industry is well placed to build upon the trust that most of the British public has in us to produce fantastic food.

With this in mind, the four UK Next Generation Groups are hosting a webinar on November 25 focusing on how farming can benefit from the green economic recovery from COVID-19 and exploring how green finance can help the next generation of farmers and crofters increase efficiency and connect with consumer demands when buyers are sourcing products.

To join us in the webinar, go to

Following the NFUS Next Generation Facebook group will also keep you up to date with our packed programme of activities.

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