Agricultural transition in Scotland - first steps towards our national policy: consultation analysis

Analysis of the responses received to the Agricultural Transition in Scotland consultation. The consultation was carried out between August 2021 and November 2021.

11. Conclusions

A large number of individuals and stakeholders with detailed knowledge took part in the consultation. Reflecting their experience and expertise, this report provides a high-level summary of respondents' perspectives. For more detail, readers are encouraged to look to individual responses where permission was granted for publication[9].

There was a clear consensus that agricultural businesses which receive financial support from the Scottish Government should be required to undertake baseline data collection, and that data should be collated nationally. This was considered vital to monitoring progress, useful for future planning, and necessary to drive action and policy development. There were, however, calls for data collection to be straightforward and reflect the diversity of farm types, and for clear and accessible training and guidance for farmers on how to collect and use the data. Some questioned if productivity is the best measure of success, arguing that environmental and biodiversity improvements, profitability and efficiency should also be considered.

Respondents were clear that capital funding should be provided for items with a clear link to wider environmental improvement, and not solely to items which reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This included items which could improve biodiversity, land, soil and crop management. Several suggested funding for actions which may improve food production or business efficiency and productivity, given the latter could indirectly reduce emissions.

Many actions to enhance biodiversity were proposed, with the vast majority agreeing this should be incentivised. Views were mixed on the role of forestry, grazing and livestock numbers in carbon sequestration, and there was clear support for the protection of peatland. There were calls for sectoral guidance on land use change, and for a joined-up approach to land use planning. The commercial, environmental and socio-economic benefits to agriculture of a Just Transition were cited. Respondents also highlighted the challenges of funding the actions required, of overcoming established attitudes and practices, and a lack of knowledge and skills in the sector.

Most attached a high level of importance to knowledge exchange, skills development and innovation in agriculture, and there was widespread support for further research. Various forms of education were suggested, including individualised support, peer-to-peer knowledge exchange and improved information and advisory services. Mixed views were evident over whether CPD should be mandatory for businesses receiving public support.

Respondents generally agreed that the green credentials of Scottish produce could be enhanced through shortening supply chains, encouraging consumers to shop locally, and having clear, transparent product labelling. While some supported a role for farm assurance, others disagreed.

The views expressed in the consultation provide a useful evidence base for the Scottish Government to draw on when developing the forthcoming Agriculture Bill.



Back to top