Sustainable and regenerative farming - next steps: statement

Information about how we will support farming and food production in Scotland to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

The next step in delivering our vision for Scotland as a leader in sustainable and regenerative farming.

Our vision for Scottish Agriculture

We will transform how we support farming and food production in Scotland to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

This commitment will sit at the heart of a robust and coherent framework to underpin Scotland's future agriculture support regime from 2025 onwards.

Scotland will have a support framework that delivers high quality food production, climate mitigation and adaptation, and nature restoration. High quality, nutritious food locally and sustainably produced is key to our wellbeing – in economic, environmental, social and health terms. We will support and work with farmers and crofters to meet more of our own food needs sustainably and to farm and croft with nature.

Farming, crofting and land management will continue to play an important role in maintaining thriving rural and island communities. Land management in Scotland will change as we tackle the twin biodiversity and climate crises which will present challenges and opportunities for farmers and crofters, building on their traditional leadership role in land management and stewardship.

In acknowledgement of the reliance that urban Scotland will have on rural communities and businesses to help deliver our climate change targets and net zero ambitions, we will support farmers, crofters and local communities to ensure they can capitalise on the benefits and that there is a Just Transition.

Our vision is underpinned by these values and principles. We will:

  • ensure that Scotland's people are able to live and work sustainably on our land
  • remain committed to supporting active farming and food production with direct payments
  • seek to create a diverse, flourishing industry
  • integrate enhanced conditionality of at least half of all funding for farming and crofting by 2025
  • as part of this conditionality, expect recipients of support to deliver on targeted outcomes for biodiversity gain and low emissions production
  • develop policy, regulatory and support mechanisms which deliver emissions reductions in line with our climate targets, and contribute to wider government objectives and priorities, particularly in relation to our net zero ambitions
  • design those mechanisms to support outcomes that restore nature, benefit our natural capital and promote the natural economy
  • ensure those mechanisms are flexible enough to be adapted in delivery to accommodate emerging evidence, science, technology and tools
  • adopt an evidence-based, holistic, whole farm approach, including learning from and applying practice and experience from other nations
  • adopt a natural capital and just transition approach to land use change
  • where practicable, stay aligned with new EU measures and policy developments

To achieve this vision, we will work with and alongside farmers, crofters and land managers to ensure that they have the right support to:

  • continue delivering high farming standards, including to enhance animal health and welfare
  • contribute to our Good Food Nation ambitions and Local Food strategy, particularly to create more localised supply chains, enhance producer value and cut food miles
  • deliver emission reductions in line with our climate targets
  • contribute to the restoration of nature through biodiversity gain on the land they farm
  • support land use change that contributes to our climate and biodiversity goals in line with the recommendations of the Just Transition Commission
  • encourage more farmers and crofters to farm and produce food organically
  • improve business resilience, efficiency and productivity, including through adoption and deployment of technology and innovation
  • take a whole farm approach to reducing emissions and environmental impact
  • accelerate adoption of approaches and measures which minimise, reduce and remove the use of agrochemical inputs and increase the use of non-chemical related actions
  • enable more local employment on the land, more women to enter farming and more new and young entrants into farming
  • identify and develop the skills needed for regenerative and sustainable farming, changes of land use and adaptation to the changing climate.
  • encourage co-operative approaches to optimise collaboration and knowledge exchange

We will support and work with the agriculture industry to meet these shared objectives. Our short-term focus and priority is on those sectors with the highest emissions, including livestock production – the national test programme prioritises them to begin the transformation journey. But there is also a universal element in the Programme in acknowledgement of the need for all farming activity to change in the medium and longer term to become low carbon, sustainable and regenerative. While the initial priority is on cutting emissions, we will build on this work through other actions to create compelling, evidence based, outcomes focussed measures which deliver wider benefits through nature restoration, integrating trees on farms, peatland restoration and land management.

A strong basis for progress

We start our transformation journey from a strong base. Scotland is engaged in a range of activity already, including the creation of farm based tools, for example Agrecalc to assess emissions and more recently sequestration at a farm level, through to a whole farm approach to business and environmental improvement, exemplified in the monitor farm and the farming for a better climate programmes.

The industry has played a key role in deliberating on and proposing change. Now our farmers and crofters can lead the change. We know that many farmers, crofters and land managers are already farming more sustainably, adopting regenerative agriculture principles and approaches, and using tools such as carbon audits and soil testing to inform practice change.

This activity has been complemented by the research and development work of the world class scientists and academics, based in Scottish institutions, who are also helping to design and develop the tools of the future which will help make farming more sustainable and low carbon.

But emissions from agriculture are still too high; we are still not managing to do simple, obvious things – such as improved slurry storage; we do not have a baseline of activity or understanding of who is doing what, when and where; and critically, we are at risk of missing opportunities to tackle the twin emergencies of climate and nature collaboratively that will create green skills, new jobs and industries that benefit farmers, and rural and island communities.



Testing for Sustainable Farming:

Preparing for Sustainable Farming:

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