In November 2020 the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism Fergus Ewing MSP invited me to form a farmer led group with the purpose of recommending practical but importantly, evidence based measures that the arable and horticulture sector can implement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and demonstrate how this sector can help achieve the Scottish Government's statutory climate change targets.
This is a fabulous opportunity for Scottish Agriculture to show real leadership and ambition in what are unprecedented times of change, forming ideas and solutions compatible with nature but importantly still being production-oriented to match Scotland Food and Drink ambitions.
Setting up this group in the middle of a global pandemic was never going to be easy, with all meetings conducted virtually which in many ways allowed an intensity and focus which might not have occurred otherwise. Early in the process it was realised that measures implemented in isolation would not take us forward; this led to recognition that a whole farm holistic approach is required. I am determined that this concise readable report can and will be used by Government and the wider industry as a template not only to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets but to allow Scottish farmers to be both profitable and sustainable, working with scientifically proven methods and good common sense.
There is no silver bullet but many approaches and methodologies (highlighted within this report) that all farmers and growers can draw down on to suit their own unique circumstances to reach individual and national outcomes. I must acknowledge that most of the heavy lifting in producing this document fell to Alison Milne who kindly agreed to be rapporteur for the group, pulling together the research and excellent written documentation taken from the call for evidence; therefore deep gratitude to those individuals and organisations who took the time to respond in what was a very tight timescale.
The individuals within the Arable Climate Change Group must also be acknowledged for timely responses and contributions, all are named at the end of the report.
I also need to thank Mike Parker and Rosie Anfield who were exemplary in the role of secretariat for the group often responding late into the evening and weekends to allow prompt delivery of this report.
Arable Climate Change Group Chair