In 2015 the Scottish Government published a Vision for Agriculture and nine desired policy outcomes. The vision was expressed as: Scotland has an innovative, profitable and sustainable agriculture industry which is outward-looking and resilient, supporting our economic growth, environment and communities and contributing to global food security.
A lengthy national discussion/consultation was carried out and a summary of consultation findings was published in 2016. Whilst no doubt the Vision and outcomes will need to be reviewed over time, and acknowledging that it would be possible to haggle over their precise wording, we are content that they still set the right broad objectives for the future of Scotland's farm sector.
In early 2017 we were appointed as four Agriculture Champions to advise the Scottish Government on a strategy for delivering the Vision, taking account of other relevant Scottish Government initiatives and documents – such as the Land Use Strategy, the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, the Forestry Strategy, and others.
As champions we have attended various events and meetings to enable us to have a two-way dialogue with interested stakeholders – for instance, the Scottish Government's Agriculture and Rural Development stakeholder group and the Hill Farming Summit. We each brought together one or more groups of individuals selected for their expertise to help us develop our analysis.
For the purposes of managing the work, the 9 outcomes were split into 4 themes - Sustainability, Food and Drink, Public Value and Education. However, it became clear to us that these are not separate issues but elements of an overall strategic approach. For that reason we have set out our emerging thinking in this interim discussion document not under those four headings, but as the main elements of a single overall strategy developed by us collectively.
We would welcome views from stakeholders – both organisations and individuals – on the ideas in this discussion document, before we prepare our final report. Details of how to submit your comments are on page 14.