New Independent Climate Change Inquiry in Scotland to Map Positive Path for Farming and Food Production

Press Release issued on behalf of ‘Farming for 1.5 Degrees’

Farmers, scientists and environmentalist to report on way forward

A new Independent Climate Change Inquiry is to explore how a low carbon landscape can support a bright future for farming and food.

The ‘Farming for 1.5 degrees’ group met for the first time in Edinburgh yesterday (11 June).  The ten strong inquiry panel includes four farmers from different sectors as well as leading scientists and environmentalists.  It will be co-chaired by Mike Robinson and Nigel Miller.

The aim is to produce a consensus report on the way forward for farming and land use in Scotland in the context of the Scottish Government’s commitment to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

The inquiry is supported jointly by NFU Scotland and leading food policy charity Nourish Scotland.  Over the next 12 months the panel will hear from a wide range of witnesses and bring together evidence and views from many different sources.

Its final report will propose agreed targets for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions from Scotland’s agriculture and related land use while continuing to produce high quality food: and will identify the specific measures needed to achieve these targets.

Kicking off the first meeting, co-chair Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society commented: “Farming and agriculture have a huge role in delivering a safe climate. We’ve brought together an expert panel who are really well placed both to detail how best to achieve this and what government and others will need to do to help support the farming community.”

NFU Scotland President, Andrew McCornick said: ““Scotland’s farmers and crofters are part of the solution in delivering on the landmark CCC recommendation that Scotland can achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.  

“This independent inquiry is a ground up initiative looking for solutions that work for the industry at grass roots level.

“The farmer involvement in this inquiry will help shape its findings and build on the green credentials that already exist around Scotland’s agriculture. Reducing agricultural emissions in Scotland will be fundamentally challenging but, we believe, need not be at the expense of producing food, cutting livestock numbers or exporting our emissions by relying on food imports.”  

Notes to editors

  • A photograph of those who attended the inaugural meeting of the ‘Farming for 1.5 Degrees’ group is attached.  
  • Further information on the ‘Farming for 1.5 Degrees’ group is available from Pete Ritchie, Nourish Scotland on or call 07794 610148
  • Full list of co-chairs and panel members is as follows:

-    Mike Robinson (co-chair) Mike is the Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) based in Perth, a role he has held since 2008.    He has worked in the Scottish charity and environment sector for the last 25 years, initially with RSPB as Head of Marketing, and later with the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh as Director of Development.  In a voluntary capacity Mike has held more than forty board/advisory roles, mostly for environment and human rights bodies, including as previous Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS)
-    Nigel Miller (co-chair) Graduate of the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies; worked in the Highlands in mixed mainly farm animal practice before returning home to the family farm partnership in the Scottish Borders in Galawater. The unit carries 170 breeding cows and 800 breeding ewes; a limited area of winter and spring barley is grown. Two sons are now part of the partnership and through their work the business has diversified into wood processing. Nigel is a past chair of FWAG Scotland and the NFUS Livestock Committee and held the position of NFU Scotland President. He has been a Board Member of SRUC and SAC Commercial and today is a Board Member of the Moredun Research Institute and Chair of Livestock Health Scotland.

Panel members are as follows:
-    Andrew Barbour - Andrew runs a livestock enterprise with his wife and family in Highland Perthshire.  As well as managing livestock, he has experience in forestry, deer management as well as aquaculture.   He is currently Acting chair of the Deer Working Group.
-    Dave Reay - Dave is Professor of Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh and author of Climate-Smart Food. He has studied climate change for over 20 years. His latest project involves managing a large area of coastal land in Scotland to regrow native tree species and trap a lifetime’s carbon.
-    Deborah J. Long - Deborah is Chief Officer at Scottish Environment LINK, the umbrella organisation for Scotland’s environmental charities. LINK aims to conserve, protect and restore wildlife and nature; to enable access to nature and landscapes, and to defend environmental rights. Prior to this, for 14 years she was director of Plantlife in Scotland, a small NGO conserving native plants, fungi and habitats. She also ran a Europe-wide project on sustainable food growing.
-    Geoff Simm - Professor Simm is Director of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security at the University of Edinburgh. This is one of five Global Academies that aim to galvanize interdisciplinary teaching, research and translation on key global challenges. Geoff’s research is in sustainable farm animal breeding and sustainable agri-food systems. He is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.
-    John Smith - John runs Drumalea Farm in Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula where he farms 840 acres of productive grassland and some wholecrop wheat in partnership with his wife Ruth; to support the dairy herd and followers along with some cattle being reared for beef. Currently John is chair of NFUS milk committee where the priorities just now are addressing mandatory written contracts; presenting the industry as part of the solution in the climate change debate and promoting the real health benefits of dairy as part of a healthy lifestyle.
-    Philip Sleigh - Philip farms, in partnership with his wife Gill, in the North East of Scotland, 350 acres of crops, and run a 450-sow unit, all progeny finished on farm. He is a past board member of NFUS, and at present sits on the board of Scottish Pig Producers, and on the board of QMS.
-    Russell Brown - Russell farms in partnership with wife Hilary and their two sons Robbie and Stephen. They farm in NE Fife and Perthshire. They have slowly expanded, and they now farm over a 1000 ha of arable land which is mixture of owned (380ha) and the rest contract farm arrangements with several local landowners. They grow 440 ha winter wheat, 60 ha Rye for AD plant, 110 ha S. Barley, 160 ha oats winter and spring, 150 ha potatoes and land let out for calabrese, vining peas and energy beet. Russell is a past Chairman of NFUS potato working group. At present he is the Chairman of the 16-member Scottish Potato Co-op recently set up to market 70,000 tonnes of fresh potatoes.
-    Sarah Skerratt - Sarah is Professor of Rural Society and Policy. She is Director of Policy Engagement at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and sits on SRUC’s Executive team. For 30+ years, Sarah has researched rural community resilience, empowerment and disempowerment; poverty; leadership; and broadband. She has recently focused on rural mental health, working with the national charity Support in Mind Scotland.  Sarah recently completed a two-year secondment with Audit Scotland, bringing a “rural lens” to their work, and is now retained as their rural adviser, having established their Islands Forum in 2017. In 2018, she completed the “Recharging Rural” research for the Prince’s Countryside Fund, gathering evidence across rural UK as to what makes rural communities sustainable to 2030 and beyond.
-    Sheila George - After completing a PhD on disease dynamics of bovine TB, Sheila moved to the public sector in Ireland, developing sustainability and natural capital policy.  For the last seven years she has worked in the NGO sector on landscape-scale conservation delivery, nature-based solutions, land use and environment policy.  She recently moved to WWF Scotland as Food and Environment Policy Manager.
-    Steven Thomson - Steven is a Senior Agricultural Economist with over 25 years’ experience in agricultural and rural policy analysis and has been involved in assessing agricultural change, particularly in reference to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), for several years.  Steven’s ongoing work is heavily focused on considering how the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will impact on Scottish agriculture and wider rural society. Last year Steven lead an extensive review of the use of non-UK seasonal labour in the Scottish farming sector - providing the first quantification of the extent of use of seasonal overseas workers to the Scottish Government. Work for the Scottish Government on the Socio-Economic and Biodiversity impacts of grouse has also recently been finished and a three-year investigation of the wider Rural Business base is ongoing for Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government where linkages to the land-based sector are one of the topics being investigated.

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