Vice President's Blog - 11 May 2020

The outbreak of COVID-19 has been devastating and disruptive writes Vice President Martin Kennedy.

As farmers, we have been fortunate to be able to continue to carry out our work producing food for the nation, but we are conscious of the loss and disruption this crisis has caused many.

The inevitable postponing of events, including COP26, and delays to climate change legislation are welcome and crucial steps that allow us to focus on protecting public health and saving lives.

But this does not mean we should forget about our responsibility to respond to climate change.

Since 1990, emissions from Scottish agriculture have reduced by almost 30 per cent and protected the carbon stocks in soils on our arable land. This highlights the important role farmers play in sequestering carbon and protecting and promoting a healthy environment.

But the fact remains that agriculture is a source of greenhouse gas emissions. That is why NFUS recognises the risk climate change poses and why we are committed to continue playing an active role in tackling it.

We want to see an approach to mitigate climate change that also enhances biodiversity and drives benefits for food production and for our landscapes and communities.

We need to take opportunities to adopt management and measurement tools. We know that this can bring win-win solutions: small changes to more efficient farming methods can cut greenhouse gases per unit of food produced while delivering financial wins for farm businesses.

We must continue to make decisions based on the most relevant and up-to-date scientific evidence. It is crucial that we are not selective with our approach – even if we discover things that don’t seem at first to be to our liking.  

Our work at NFUS in partnership with the Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes (SEFARI) has looked to bring clarity on the impact Scottish agriculture has on the climate.

This work, which will be published over the coming weeks, summarises current knowledge and shows an accurate picture of agriculture, highlighting where there is certainty and areas where we need more research.

We know that recovery from Covid-19 will present unique challenges for all of society, businesses, and government.

Despite this uncertainty, Scottish farmers remain committed to producing high quality food in a way that reduces our carbon footprint and protects the environment.

Scotland is already recognised as being well ahead of the curve when it comes to climate change, and so long as we continue to drive positive measures to improve our position, market opportunities for our products can only increase.

Author: Martin Kennedy

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About The Author

Martin Kennedy

Martin is a tenant farmer in Aberfeldy, Highland Perthshire and farms with his wife Jane and three daughters. They have 600 ewes and 60 cows on the farm rising from 800ft to 2,500ft. Martin served two years as Highland Perthshire Branch chair, before representing East Central region on the LFA committee in 2009. Martin went on to be Vice-Chair before chairing the committee for three years. He was elected Vice-President in 2017 and elected as President in 2021.

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