13. Conclusions and Next Steps
The challenges facing agriculture in this post Brexit, post COVID era are multi-faceted and complex. There are multiple objectives which may seem at odds with each other. How can we meet the demands of feeding a growing global population while reducing absolute emissions? How can farmers become market led and market driven if they must also provide public benefits for which there is no market reward?
The Scottish Government has set legally binding targets for GHG emissions reductions which appear to be unachievable if overall targets are bluntly disaggregated by industry and sector. We suggest that there must be recognition that agriculture delivers a plethora of societal benefits ranging from healthy, nutritious food and biodiversity to the health and wellbeing of the nation and so crude targets do not adequately capture the contribution farmers make.
Notwithstanding the wider context however, the dairy sector acknowledges that there is much room for improvement and stands ready and willing to tackle the multiple challenges it faces. If given the right policy environment dairy farmers will adapt and embrace change. Scottish dairy farmers are proud of what they produce, and they want to do it in a climate sensitive way. They have demonstrated that they are adaptable to change and are willing to embrace innovation. They do not want to be recipients of public funds as income support. They want to deliver public benefits and to be rewarded fairly for doing do, with the outputs of their efforts properly recognised and valued by society.
Dairy farmers are part of the solution to climate change and look forward with optimism to a facilitative, inclusive policy climate in Scotland that will enable all sectors of agriculture to come together to develop a cohesive and integrated agricultural policy.