Climate Change Ambition Awaits Action and Tools to Drive Scottish Agriculture Forward

Scotland’s farmers and crofters are keen to play their important role in delivering the ambitious climate change plans set by Scottish Government but are calling for the policy tools to help them transform.

NFU Scotland welcomed the Scottish Government’s updated Climate Change Plan 2018-2032 published on 16 December 2020.  The plan sets out a vision for supporting efficient, high quality food production through the sustainable use of Scotland’s natural land and resources to deliver on climate and biodiversity goals.  That is a vision which NFU Scotland shares and has been outlining consistently for several years.  It was a central plank of the ‘Stability: The Platform for Change’ policy document launched in spring 2020.

Recommendations within the Scottish Government plan will shape Scottish agriculture and land use and, while they include recognition of the support Scotland’s farmers and crofters will need as they continue to take action to tackle climate change, NFUS is calling for an ambitious support and policy platform to enable transformation sooner rather than later as businesses need to be able to plan for the long-term.  Investment and change to operating practise cannot happen overnight.

The Union has welcomed the farmer-led climate change groups that have been set up by the Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing to make recommendations on how to develop a government-funded scheme aimed at supporting farmers and crofters to meet the Scottish Government’s ambitious Climate Change targets while improving the profitability of farming.  

NFU Scotland Vice President Martin Kennedy explained: “Scottish farmers and crofters have shown that they are eager to innovate and adapt their businesses to support the green recovery and tackle climate change while improving efficiency without compromising on the quality of produce.

“The Climate Change Plan marks out the Scottish Government’s recognition of the importance of agriculture, food and drink to the Scottish economy and the need to avoid off-shoring emissions. By making it clear that utilising Scotland’s comparative advantages in grassland and cereals, together with new measures to allow farmers to invest in new technology and adopt practices for improved productivity and reduced emissions, the Scottish Government recognises that agriculture will play a key role in meeting its climate change ambitions. That recognition needs to be matched with corresponding policy and funding to achieve this.

“There is genuine ambition within the sector that needs to be enhanced and developed now. We have already seen a hunger for incentive schemes such as the oversubscribed Sustainable Agriculture Capital Grants Scheme.  Such initiatives need to be expanded and fine-tuned soon as change cannot happen overnight.  We also need to support the ‘early adopters and innovators’ who have already taken positive steps to adjust the businesses.

“The Union is very encouraged that many representatives from Scottish agriculture, food and drink sectors are already working as part of groups established by the Scottish Government to respond to climate change.  The recommendations from the Suckler beef group very much tie in with our Union’s future policy strategy and we look forward to what will come out from the others.  We are now starting to see the foundations of a future farming policy for Scotland and this is to be welcomed.

“NFUS is, as ever, keen to work with Scottish Government to ensure that policy decisions can deliver practical solutions in the fields.  Such partnership engagement will influence positive next steps to delivering the collective ambition of meeting Scotland’s climate change targets.

“Farmers, crofters and growers across Scotland recognise the challenges posed by climate change and are eager to build in steps many have already taken. We will be working hard to ensure Scottish Government deliver on their commitment to identify policies and support measures in 2021.”


Contact Diana McGowan on 07920 018619

Author: Diana McGowan

Date Published:

News Article No.: 171/20

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About The Author

Diana McGowan

Diana joined NFU Scotland in October 2019 bringing with her over 20 years work experience in communication roles in tourism, events and forestry in both private and public sectors. She is now a key member of the Communications team and is Editor of the Union’s flagship Scottish Farming Leader magazine.

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