- 28 Aug 2019
The group was announced at the Royal Highland Show in June, and held its first all day workshop on 14 August 2019. The remit of the group is to develop policy recommendations to benefit farming and food production in Scotland post 2024.
In addition, the group has an opportunity to inform proposed pilot schemes for the wider rural economy from 2020-2022.
The work is being overseen by the Sustainable Land Use and Rural Policy Directorate of the Scottish Government with an emphasis on openness and innovation.
This first workshop was designed to:
- share information on the ambitions of government and its performance framework
- remind members of the significant amount of work that has already been undertaken and can be built upon
- hear different perspectives within the group
- discuss the policy development process and plan for future workshop sessions
Alongside presenting factual and policy information, the group emphasised the way it wanted to work. This included being open with perceptions and interests in the room and a willingness to listen and hear all the voices in the debate. The group recognised that change is never easy and requested the approach adopted is one of respect and open communication. The group recognised the need for robust discussion on individual views within a space of confidence while, at the same time, ensuring there are clear communications with those not in the room, to allow individuals and businesses to reflect on the direction of travel. As part of that commitment, the group agreed to produce a ‘cascade note’ following each meeting.
In the morning session, the group received presentations from those who had been involved with the CAP Greening, Agricultural Champions, NCRA, Women in Agriculture, Climate Change, Stability and Simplicity, the Just Transition Commission, 1.5 farming, Steps to Change and the work of the Soil Association. In addition, the Scottish Government provided a summary of baseline evidence (the presentation included key statistics from Scottish Agricultural Census: June 2018 and Scottish farm business income: annual estimates 2017-2018 publications), and the group welcomed the opportunity of being able to use the Academic Advisory Panel to help with testing the evidence base.
In the afternoon, the group looked at what further preparatory work is required before entering into the specifics of the policy development process. As part of this preparatory work, the group signalled a desire to test the existing evidence base and policy recommendations at the next meeting using the framework of strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats.
In preparation for the next meeting, the group is now working on:
- collating the requirements of relevant government policies and strategies
- setting out what successful farming and food production might look like in Scotland beyond 2024 and how that success integrates with the wider rural economy
- developing a Communication and Engagement Strategy
- assessing the feasibility of different land management options as contributors to the climate change emergency
- providing a series of case studies, the challenges they face, their viability and contribution to sustainable land-use
- filling evidence gaps and bringing best practises from around the world to the table
Monthly meetings are envisaged through until December 2019.