Scotland and the sustainable development goals: a national review to drive action

This review provides a statement of our pre-COVID-19 ambition on driving progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Scotland. It brings together evidence, actions and stories of how we are making progress to meet the Goals.

2 Zero Hunger

  • Environment
  • Health
  • Economy
  • Poverty
  • Education
  • Children

This goal relates to tackling the drivers and effects of household food insecurity and increasing sustainable agriculture, working hand in hand to achieve zero hunger. The right to food is protected in international human rights law (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNCRC, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights).

A modern vibrant and successful Scotland, with our abundant natural resources should not tolerate any child or adult going hungry. But too many people are suffering from hunger and many go without to provide for their loved ones. In Scotland, food insecurity is not caused by a shortage of food, but by low and insecure incomes which limit people’s ability to afford sufficient food. The first data set on food insecurity in Scotland, using questions from the UN’s Food Insecurity Experience Scale, was contained in the Scottish Health Survey 2017. Worrying about running out of money for food was more prevalent among: adults with the lowest household incomes (25%); single parent households (21%); single adult households (20%); adults living in the most deprived areas (18%); adults with limiting longstanding illness (18%).

The Data Picture: Food Insecurity

By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year around (target 2.1).

The proportion of adults reporting that they were worried they would run out of food because of lack of resources has a strong association with deprivation. 4% of adults in the 20% least deprived areas reported worry over running out of food rising to 16% in the 20% most deprived areas.

Column chart showing the proportion of adults worried about running out of food due to a lack of money or other resources by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation quintiles. The 20% least deprived shows 4% of adults worried about running out of food, and there is an upward trend towards 16% of adults worried about running out of food at the 20% most deprived decile.

The proportion of adults in 2017/2018 reporting that at some point in the last 12 months they were worried they would run out of food because of a lack of money or other resources, broken down by SIMD quintile (20% most deprived to the 20% least deprived)

Source: Scottish Health Survey

Organisations responding to food insecurity have seen an increase in the number of households which they support in recent years. In 2017, food banks in areas of full Universal Credit rollout had seen a 17% average increase in referrals for emergency food, more than double the national average.

Scotland’s efforts to address the causes of food insecurity are contained within Goal 1: No Poverty and Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. Key actions include promoting the living wage and various measures to maximise people’s incomes from social security.

In recognition of this challenge, Scotland is taking a whole systems approach to tackling poor health outcomes, poor diet and food insecurity, working towards achieving targets 2.1 and 2.2 with a close connection to Goal 1 and wider connections to Goal 3 on Health, Goal 8 on the Economy, and Goal 13 on Climate Action.

Tackling food insecurity (targets 2.1 and 2.2)

Scotland’s efforts to address the causes of food insecurity are focused on tackling the financial drivers of the problem. Key actions include promoting the living wage and various measures to maximise people’s incomes from social security.

No one should be left hungry and have to rely on charitable food. When people do run out of money for food, crisis support is available in the form of the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF). This discretionary fund provides a safety net for people on low incomes, with food being the most common Crisis Grant expenditure. The fund helps both with responding to acute food crisis as well as preventing future crises. Taking a holistic approach, the fund requires consideration of all forms of support an individual might need and build connections with local services to enable effective referral, thereby aiming to addressing the root causes of the problem. There are examples of good practice in developing coordinated referral pathways for supporting people with no money for food. North Lanarkshire Council’s Food Poverty Referral Gateway ensures that all presentations of food crisis are referred to the Scottish Welfare Fund as the first port of call. This encourages cash grants to be sought before a referral to a charitable food provider and promotes referrals to be made to appropriate services such as welfare rights advice, housing support and debt advice, to help address the root cause of the problem and prevent future crises. This approach has seen a 22% drop in food bank referrals locally (North Lanarkshire Monitoring Report Five – October 17).

The Scottish Government has also invested in organisations tackling food insecurity in local communities. The Fair Food Fund increased from £1 million in 2016-17 and 2017-18, to £1.5 million in 2018-19, and to £3.5 million in 2019-20. The fund is focused on dignified access to nutritious food and support to tackle the root causes of poverty. £2 million of the Fair Food Fund 2019-20 is being invested in work to tackle food insecurity in the school holidays.

Free school meals are provided to every pupil in primaries 1 to 3 at all publicly-funded schools in Scotland, in order to leave no child behind. More than 130,000 primary 1 to 3 children are benefiting from these meals, delivering annual savings for families of around £400 per child. After primary 3, free school meals continue to be available for children and young people whose parents or carers are in receipt of specific qualifying benefits and older pupils who receive any of those same benefits in their own right.

From the summer of 2019, the Scottish Government started replacement of the UK Healthy Start Food Vouchers scheme for families on low incomes residing in Scotland with a smart payment card. The Best Start Foods payment card enables families to purchase food products such as milk (including first infant formula), fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables, pulses and eggs. The card will be able to be used in any food retailer, reducing the stigma of paper vouchers and opening up the accessibility and choices for families on low incomes to purchase good value healthy foods. The value of weekly payment is also increased from £3.10 per week to £4.25 for each eligible person in the family.

Closer Look - Children in Scotland

Children in Scotland is leading an innovative project to address food poverty and its links with wellbeing and education. So far the project has focused on working with communities in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, Eastern Perthshire and North Ayrshire – all areas with significant levels of child poverty. Holiday clubs afford a number of benefits to families and children. For example, holiday clubs help to reduce social isolation, provide a structure for family engagement in physical and social activities, provide free, healthy food, and bring communities together.

Closer Look - Govanhill Community Project

Fresh Food Parcels: As part of this project, donations of fresh food (fruit, vegetables, bread) that would otherwise go to waste are distributed to individuals and families in need each Wednesday. Service users can self-refer by calling on a Wednesday morning to put their name on the list, and the parcels are ready for collection that afternoon. Demand for the service outstrips capacity, with around 35 parcels provided each week but a waiting list of 10-15 people. Most of the people using this service are asylum seekers, who are not permitted to work and have no recourse to public funds. Asylum claimants are entitled to £37.75 a week ‘asylum support’, which has to cover everything from food and other household essentials, as well as to travel to important lawyer and Home Office appointments. To put this into context, in Glasgow a return bus ticket is £4.60.

People come from across Glasgow to access a parcel, often on foot. Between April 2018 and March 2019, the project delivered a total of 1683 parcels to 451 beneficiaries. This organisation also provides Emergency Food Parcels which provides parcels dry food items and household basics for asylum seekers who are rendered destitute when their asylum support is stopped, or for those who arrive in Glasgow with absolutely nothing. Need for this project is assessed by caseworkers who run the Advice & Advocacy drop-in service. The parcels consist of things like pasta, rice, tinned goods, cooking oil, long-life milk, and also toiletries and nappies.

The project receives a few small regular donations from private supporters, and supplement this with small community grants, from which they purchase stock. As the demand for this project increased dramatically, it has supplemented this donation with food drives in the community. The project began distributing around 10 emergency parcels a month, but the average is more like 35 now. Between April 2018 and March 2019, the project delivered a total of 374 parcels to 172 beneficiaries.

The Scottish Government also provides support to Community Food initiatives and networks across Scotland, who are doing vital work at grassroots level, particularly in communities experiencing food insecurity. These projects help a huge number of people access fresh, healthy food and develop the skills needed to prepare nutritious food for themselves and their families. Networks include Glasgow Community Food Network, Edinburgh Community Food, Lanarkshire Community Food and Community Food Initiative North East.

An Independent Working Group on Food Poverty published 19 recommendations in their report ‘Dignity: Ending Hunger Together in Scotland’ (July 2016), including that Scottish Government monitor food insecurity, and consider enshrining the right to food in law. The Scottish Government broadly accepted these recommendations.

The Scottish Health Survey has published data on food insecurity for 2017, and the collection and analysis of data for 2018 and 2019 is underway, after which the questions in the Scottish Health Survey will be reviewed. The SDG indicator 2.1.2 measures food insecurity through the use of the Food Insecurity experience Scale (FIES) which comprises of 8 questions. The current National Performance measure uses 3 of these questions providing a partially matched indicator. In February 2019, the UK Government committed to measuring household food insecurity through the UK-wide Family Resources Survey. This will enable data comparison with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and will facilitate ongoing monitoring of food insecurity in Scotland.

Closer Look - A Menu for Change

A Menu for Change is an innovative partnership project to tackle food insecurity and prevent the need for food banks in Scotland. It is delivered by Oxfam Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Nourish Scotland and Poverty Alliance. The project emerged following recommendations of the Short Life Working Group on Food Poverty. The project works to improve policy and practice in responding to food insecurity by increasing access to cash entitlements and welfare rights advice. This has been achieved by improving coordinating of local services and influencing local and national policy development. Examples of local initiatives which A Menu for Change is supporting include engaging a support worker based in a community centre which is the most frequent referrer to the local food bank. By focusing on crisis advice and support, the centre has reduced the number of food bank referrals being made and increased engagement with services to help prevent future crisis, including the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Good Food Nation (targets 2.1 and 2.2)

The national food and drink policy, Becoming a Good Food Nation, was published in 2014. It set the vision for Scotland: that by 2025 Scotland will be ‘a Good Food Nation, where people from every walk of life take pride and pleasure in, and benefit from, the food they produce, buy, cook, serve, and eat each day’. This vision also helps to delivery against targets 2.1 and 2.2. Activities across Scotland are already helping to make a real and positive difference to the lives of the people of Scotland by helping to improve their access to, and understanding of, the benefits of healthy local foods, ensure sustainability of our food industry, and looking to grow Scotland’s reputation as a Good Food Nation. Yet, activities often remain fragmented and are not developed concurrently, meaning more work is required to shift to a coherent joined-up approach to food.

A consultation on legislative provisions to underpin the Good Food Nation ambition was launched on 21 December 2018 and closed on 18 April, with the Good Food Nation framework focusing on embedding processes to ensure that the substance of the right to food has effect as a matter of everyday good practice. During the consultation period, there were more than 30 Good Food Ambassadors across Scotland helping to make people aware of the opportunity to participate.

The Scottish Government will lay before Parliament in 2019-20 a Good Food Nation Bill to provide a statutory framework to support the ambition set out in the vision of Becoming a Good Food Nation.

Diet and healthy weight (target 2.2)

In Scotland, far too many people in Scotland face serious risks to their health associated with poor diet and unhealthy weight.

The Data Picture: Healthy Weight

By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year around (target 2.1).

Prevalence of malnutrition among children under 5 years of age, by type (wasting and overweight) is SDG indicator 2.2.2. In Scotland healthy weight of children has remained relatively stable over the years 2014 to 2018.

The percentage of adults (aged 16+) who are a normal weight (defined as having a Body Mass Index of 18.5 to less than 25) was 33% in 2018 and has remained stable in recent years.

The percentage of children aged 2 to 15 who are considered to be of healthy weight (defined as Body Mass Index (BMI) above 2nd percentile and below 85th percentile of the UK growth reference charts) has remained relatively stable in recent years, with 69% of children being of healthy weight in 2018.

Line graph showing the percentages of children and adults in Scotland who are a healthy weight. The percentage of children who are a healthy weight has remained stable at between 33% and 35% between 2014 and 2018. The percentage of adults who are a healthy weight has also remained stable, between 68% and 72% over the same period.

The percentage of children (aged 2 – 15 years old) and adults (aged 16 years+) who are a healthy weight

Source: Scottish Health Survey

Children who are living in the most deprived areas in Scotland are less likely to have healthy weight: in 2017, 70% of children (aged 2-15) living in the most deprived areas had a healthy weight compared to 78% of those living in the least deprived areas.

In order to tackle these health harms, the Scottish Government published A Healthier Future: Scotland’s Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan in July 2018. The vision is simple: to create a Scotland where everyone eats well, and we all have a healthy weight. To achieve this, Scottish Government has set an ambition to halve childhood obesity by 2030, and to significantly reduce diet-related health inequalities.

The delivery plan has a strong preventative focus, including a range of measures to support parents to establish good nutrition and healthy eating from the early years onwards. It also aims to tackle the food environment which makes it difficult to make the right food choices.

Measures to change the food environment are likely to be more effective in reducing health inequality rather than relying on individual behaviour change alone. Recognising that too many adults in Scotland are already overweight or obese however, the delivery plan also commits to investing £42 million over five years to support people with, or at risk of, type 2 diabetes to have better access to weight management services. Work with NHS Health Boards is underway.

The Data Picture: Adult consumption of five or more portions of fruit & veg

By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year around (target 2.1). In 2018 the proportion of adults eating five or more portions of fruit and veg was 22%, being relatively stable over recent years.

Line graph showing the percentage of Scottish adults eating five or more portions of fruit and veg. Between 2014 and 2018, this fluctuated between 20% and 24%.

Percentage of Scottish adults eating five or more portions of fruit and veg

Source: Scottish Health Survey

Success demands strong leadership and effective collaboration at all levels to deliver meaningful and lasting change, which is why work is ongoing with partners to develop and champion a whole-systems approach to diet and healthy weight.

Environmentally sustainable agriculture (targets 2.3 and 2.4)

Target 2.3 and 2.4 focus on ensuring that agricultural practices are working in concert with the environment and are leaving no-one-behind. Scotland is making progress in number of areas. The Scottish Rural Development Programme Annual Report (2017) shows percentage of agricultural land under contract for a sustainability practice as increasing, 2014-2017, across all contract types (excluding agricultural land under contract for Less Favoured Area Support). Latest figures (from 2017) show that the amount of organic farmland in Scotland has slightly increased, the first increase since 2008. A total of 123,000 hectares was certified as organic farmland in Scotland. The total organic land area is now equivalent to 2.1% of agricultural land in Scotland. Sustainable agriculture in Planning policies are in place to protect our most productive agricultural land from development as appropriate. The Scottish Planning Policy (2014) paragraph 80 sets out that development which is on prime agricultural land, or land of lesser quality that is locally important should not be permitted except where it is essential: as part of a settlement strategy, for small scale development linked to a rural businesses or for energy or minerals development where restoration has been secured. Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA‘s) regulations and guidelines focus on sustainability. The extensive laws covering land use in Scotland cover issues such as farm pollution through a focus on water use, pesticide use, and waste disposal (also see Goal 6).

Target 2.3 requires doubling agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, while leaving no group behind. While some aspects of this target may be less relevant in the Scottish context than they are in low and middle income countries, other aspects of the target are relevant. The Scottish Government collects financial data from nearly 500 farm businesses that allows estimation of incomes across the industry. Farm income in the most recent year of data (2017-18) was estimated at £35,400, a six year high and a 19% increase from the previous year. Dairy farms have the highest spread in income (the difference between the high and low performers) while cereal farms have a lower farm income but with a smaller gap between high and low performers. Sheep farms in “less favourable areas” continue to rely on subsidies the most and have low farm incomes, but also with a low spread between businesses[2].

Challenges also remain in improving the sustainability of agriculture. For example, overall farmland bird trends have increased over the last 25 years, however within that some species such as lapwing have declined by more than 50%. Long term changes in farmland birds have been driven by a range of factors including agricultural intensification, reduced heterogeneity of crop types at the within-farm scale and moves away from spring-sown crops.

Scotland is heavily shaped by integration with the EU Common Agricultural Policy through the Rural Development Programme and Direct Payments both of which offer payments to farmers for sustainable agricultural practices, along with wider land management and support for rural businesses and communities. Scotland receives around £500 million each year under the Common Agricultural Policy (2014-2020). This is divided into 2 pillars. Pillar 1 includes the Basic Payment Scheme which acts as a safety net for farmers and crofters by supplementing their main business income. It also includes a Greening payment to improve the environmental performance of farming. It also provides support for beef suckler cows and sheep in certain areas which will help the environmental and social benefits that arise from extensive beef suckler herds and sheep flocks in Scotland.

Pillar 2 of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) takes the form of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) which funds a mixture of farm and non-farm schemes. The key priorities are:

  • Enhancing the rural economy
  • Supporting agricultural and forestry businesses
  • Protecting and improving the natural environment
  • Addressing the impact of climate change
  • Supporting rural communities

Since 2014 the SRDP has committed over £940 million to over 13,000 projects across Scotland along with annual support to farmers and crofters through the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme.

Through both of these pillars and wider agricultural policies, the Scottish Government provides support through the LEADER scheme, which is funded by SRDP. Grants are also awarded by Local Action Groups (LAG) to projects that support delivery of a Local Development Strategy (LDS). Local Development Strategies include actions such as driving community actions on climate change; supporting food and drink initiatives; exchange learning and knowledge; and enhance rural services and facilities (target 2.3). For example, funding of a Local Food & Drink Co-ordinator appointed to help grow, support, and innovate the local food system in the area encouraging businesses to work collaboratively to increase local food production, processing, retail and marketing.

The Scottish Government is doing more work to effectively evaluate the tangible benefits that the SRDP funding has provided. This point has also been acknowledged by the European Commission and is one of the main driving elements behind the next CAP. In Scotland, we have undertaken a stocktake of all the information that has been collected by the schemes in order to better inform agricultural policy. An enhanced evaluation of the programme is currently being undertaken, as well as monitoring of the Agri scheme (AECS). Further evaluation is also planned by the end of the year for LEADER and the Farm Advisory Service (FAS).

New entrants (target 2.3)

Sustaining new entrants into agriculture is crucial to the vitality, resilience and competitiveness of the agricultural sector (target 2.3), with the estimated average age of a Scottish farmer at 58 there are often barriers when developing new, sustainable businesses. The Scottish Government is working together with industry on the Farming Opportunities for New Entrants (FONE) group whose remit includes maximising the amount of public land used to help farmers of the future. Up to the end of 2018, FONE has helped provide over 70 new land opportunities across over 5,000 hectares with more expected during 2019. As part of the SRDP, there are three schemes dedicated to supporting new entrants that have helped kick-start over 250 new agricultural businesses to mainly young farmers. The Scottish Government also made access to skills and knowledge available under a free mentoring programme and also an advisory programme involving local workshops, regional meetings, events, guidance notes etc.

Because of the small size of businesses and their wide distribution, skills development in the land-based sector in Scotland poses particular difficulties. The Scottish Government’s support for Lantra Scotland, the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for Scotland’s land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation industries, enables them to carry out specific projects aimed at overcoming these difficulties.

Farm Advisory Services and the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (targets 2.3 and 2.4)

Funded under the SRDP, Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service is an advisory service designed to facilitate step-changes in the economic and environmental performance and resilience of farms and crofts throughout Scotland. The service encourages greater uptake of agricultural practices that improve economic performance whilst benefiting environmental priorities such as climate change, biodiversity and air and water quality. It also seeks to increase numbers of dynamic young people successfully entering Scottish agriculture.

Also funded under the SRDP, the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF) is designed to support projects that introduce innovative approaches to enhance competitiveness and ecosystems, promote resource efficiency and shift to a low carbon climate resistant economy. The scheme has two main aims. Firstly, it provides financial support for vocational training, skills development and knowledge transfer projects focused on agriculture. This is delivered through workshops, training courses, coaching, information dissemination actions and farm visits and helps translate research into on-the-ground improvements. Secondly, the scheme funds eligible innovation projects, such as benchmarking or pilot projects that aim to introduce new and innovative approaches in agricultural practice. KTIF is aligned with the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) for agriculture productivity and sustainability which promotes a faster and wider transposition of innovative solutions into practice.

Target 2.4 looks at the overall resilience of the food production system in relation to for example climate change. Scotland has made significant progress in reducing emissions from agriculture over the last 25 years, with a 25% fall in emissions over this period. However, agriculture is also a big emitter of greenhouse gas emissions and Scotland’s agriculture sector will need to modernise and innovate in order to address the challenges of climate change in the future.

The Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) promotes land management practices which protect and enhance Scotland’s natural heritage, improve water quality, manage flood risk and mitigate and adapt to climate change. It will also help to improve public access and preserve historic sites. Currently AECS provides support to more than 2,500 farming businesses across Scotland, which collectively apply environmentally friendly farming practices in the management of more than 1 million hectares of land. It is important to highlight that funding through the scheme is guaranteed for five years, regardless of what happens with the UK’s exit from the EU.

Agriculture and climate change (target 2.4)

Getting the best from our land: land use strategy for Scotland

The Land Use Strategy sets out ways in which we use Scotland’s land resources in the future. It sets out our long term Vision towards 2050 “A Scotland where we fully recognise, understand and value the importance of our land resources, and where our plans and decisions about land use deliver improved and enduring benefits, enhancing the wellbeing of our nation” with three clear Objectives relating to economic prosperity, environmental quality and communities.

In order to secure these Objectives, the Strategy identifies key Principles for Sustainable Land Use which reflect government policies on the priorities which should influence land use choices. The Principles are relevant for everybody involved in planning the future use of land or in taking significant decisions about changes in land use.

Climate Change Plan: third report on proposals and policies 2018-2032 (RPP3)

This plan sets out the path to a low carbon economy (including agriculture) while helping to deliver sustainable economic growth and secure the wider benefits to a greener, fairer and healthier Scotland in 2032. We want Scotland to continue be a world‑class producer of high quality food – and to produce it sustainably, profitably and efficiently. We are exploring the potential for reducing emissions in agriculture with both the industry and our renowned scientific community, to find solutions that are beneficial for the environment, Scotland’s farmers and our wider food and drink industry.

Farming for a better climate

This Scottish Government programme aims to promote low carbon farming practices and improving the environmental and economic sustainability of Scottish Agriculture. The programme works with groups of focus farmers to demonstrate practical ways to help mitigate and adapt to climate change and engage with the wider industry through on-farm events and digital media. Since its establishment in 2009 typically, Farming For a Better Climate focus farms have cut their carbon footprint by 10% - 20%, and have saved between £3,000 to £12,000 annually.

For example, farmers Ross and Lee Paton at Torr Farm, a 389 ha organic dairy farm near Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway, participated in the Farming for a Better Climate initiative as a volunteer Climate Change Focus Farm. With help from SRUC specialists, Ross and Lee looked at practical ways to improve farm efficiencies and if these measures could also reduce the farm carbon footprint. Ross and Lee put measures into place, based on the five key action areas:

  • Measures to optimise fuel and energy use
  • Measures to optimise fertiliser, slurry and manure use
  • Measures to protect soils and ‘lock-up’ atmospheric carbon in vegetation
  • Measures to optimise livestock management

Taking a second look at routine practices helped the farm business become more efficient and make better use of inputs. These practical actions helped Torr save around £37,000 and reduce the farm carbon footprint by 11%.

Supporting small farms (target 2.3)

Target 2.3 under this goal specifically focuses on the livelihoods of small scale farmers. Crofting continues to form an integral part and contributes towards the social, economic and environmental sustainability of Scotland’s rural and remote rural areas. There are approximately 20,500 crofts - 15,000 tenanted and 5,500 owned. Over 33,000 people live in crofting households - approximately 10% of the Highlands and Islands population. A 2018 Scottish Government commissioned survey showed that the most common crofting activities were raising livestock (80%) and growing crops (42%).

The Scottish Crofting Federation offers support and advice to small scale farmers and producers. The Scottish Government also provides a range of support mechanisms helping support environmental sustainability of agricultural practices and improve the livelihood of crofters. Grants to improve and maintain the standards of crofter housing aim to attract and retain people within the crofting areas of Scotland. Since 2007, over £19 million has been approved to help build and improve over 930 croft homes. Grants to aid and develop agricultural production on crofting businesses, thereby sustain the economic basis of crofting. Since 2011 over 4,600 applications have been approved with a value of over £15 million.

Access to the Cattle Improvement Scheme also enables crofters to benefit from access to high quality, healthy bulls and the supply of quality calves to the beef industry throughout Scotland and beyond. The scheme encourages producers to keep cattle in environmentally sensitive areas – keeping these areas in good condition and encourage local wildlife. Crofters have access to the schemes under both pillars under the Common Agricultural Policy, including over €21 million in Basic Payment Scheme and Greening payments in 2017, and over £8 million in Less Favoured Area Support Scheme payments in 2017. They also have access to the Environment Climate funding which promotes land management practices which protect and enhance Scotland’s natural heritage, improves water quality, manages flood risk and mitigate and adapt to climate change. Veterinary support which is provided to subsidise vet bills is also available.

Scotland aims to create a vibrant tenanted agricultural sector as part of a strong rural economy – this includes tenanted farms of all sizes. The Scottish Smallholders Association for example is a peer network of small‑scale farmers producing food ecologically and sustainably. The Scottish Farm Land Trust has been set up to purchase large farms, and break them up into smaller compartments for small scale ecological producers to buy/lease. Work is also ongoing across urban areas to promote urban farming and market gardening, for example as set out in the Roots to Market (2018) report from Propagate and Glasgow Community Food Network.

Over half of farms in Scotland are below 10 hectares in size (26,000 farms), and over 40,000 farms do not require the labour of one full-time worker. However, relatively little is known about their characteristics as a group, as they often fall below the threshold to be identified in the Farm Accounts Survey, and some of them do not claim grants, meaning that they do not appear in the Scottish Government’s administrative data. However, a third of those who work in the Scottish agricultural sector work on these types of farm. The Scottish Government is currently funding research which aims to:

1. Identify data gaps on small farms in existing datasets and literature

2. Start exploring small farmers as a social and economic group using qualitative research methods

3. Provide recommendations and options for future research based on the project results

For small farms, see for example Tomnaha Farm which is a community support agriculture farm in Perthshire; Pillars of Hercules, a long running organic small farm in Falkland, Fife, or Ardunan Farm, a mixed smallholding specialising in pork and poultry near Strathblane, Stirlingshire.

Target 2.3 also has a specific focus on the involvement of women. The Scottish Government appointed Women in Agriculture Taskforce aims to bring forward practical long term solutions to improve equality of opportunity for women in agriculture and optimise the economic resources of family businesses. They have funding of £250,000 for 2018-20. The Taskforce are focusing initial activity on progressing the following key themes:

  • Women in Leadership - a development programme to provide training, support and confidence building for women to secure leadership positions throughout the sector
  • Training – ensuring inclusive and accessible training is available for all, including the provision of women‑only training courses
  • Charter – a sector engagement programme to help businesses make best use of their resources and improve gender equality in farming and agriculture

The Taskforce are considering a range of other issues, including succession, rural childcare and new entrants. The Final Report of the Taskforce is expected in autumn 2019 and the Scottish Government will consider what relevant short and long term actions are required as a result of the report.

Joyce Campbell is the Minister appointed co-chair of the Women in Agriculture Taskforce and also runs the family owned Armadale hill farm. She runs a flock of 830 pure-bred North Country Cheviot hill ewes and some suckler cows. Joyce emphasises that the farm doesn’t only focus on food production but that her work is about sustaining life of the rural community and economy. The farm has a policy of buying and hiring locally and they regularly take on secondary school 3-4 year pupils who are taking up the Rural Skills programme (a vocational skills route) and employs young people and gives them the opportunity to develop their skills before going onto vocational skills training. Joyce also runs holiday cottages and aims to inform about local produce. In 2015 the farm was awarded Agriscot Scottish Sheep Farm and Joyce was awarded the Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies (ARAgS) in January 2017, in recognition of her distinguished achievement in agriculture.

Genetic seed diversity (target 2.5)

Over the forty-plus years of variety testing at Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) and its antecedents, very substantial collections have been amassed and maintained. The collections at SASA are stored in conditions of low temperature and humidity, and regularly monitored for viability, these reference collections also provide the foundation for DUS (distinctiveness, uniformity and stability) trials. The Scottish Government has a commitment to conserve its plant genetic resources as a signatory to international treaties such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 1992.

The survival of landraces is dependent on a continual cycle of regeneration and sowing; if seed harvest fails, the landrace will be lost unless a sample of the population has been conserved in ex situ storage. For this reason the Scottish Landrace Protection Scheme was set up at SASA in 2006. The ex situ storage contains Landrace (150 accessions) along with UK Vegetable (20,000 accessions), potato (1000 accessions) and cereals (6765 accessions). These crops also represent a very significant crop genetic resource relevant to the UK’s commitment to international treaties such as the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).

The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh is working in partnership to support a range of projects aimed at delivering target 2.5. The Royal Botanic Gardens is a Millennium Seed Bank partner working with RBG Kew. They have sourced seed collections for all target species of Scottish provenance (trees and wild herbs) to be held in the Millennium Seed Bank. The Garden is also working on a project on the taxonomy and systematics of the Black nightshade clade (Solanum section Solanum and allies), in partnership with NERC/Newton-FAPESP, and several Brazilian partner institutes. Its outcomes are a better understanding of the systematics, relationships, genetics and potential agricultural use of the black nightshades – crops in their own right in the Old World, and also of interest as wild crop relatives of the more economically important New World Solanum species: tomato, potato and aubergine; taxonomic data underpinning conservation and sustainable use of Solanum species and their habitats; provision of Solanum germplasm to other partner institutes (for example James Hutton work on potatoes).

Another project focuses on the Taxonomy and systematics of Zingiberaceae (gingers). The Royal Botanic Gardens work in partnership with Singapore Botanic Garden, Carlsberg Foundation, Darwin Trust of Edinburgh, Herbarium Bogoriense, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, DEFRA (Darwin Initiative), National Parks Board Singapore, BGCI, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, Sibbald Trust, Natural History Museum (Oslo), Sarawak Forest Department (Malaysia), among others. The outcome is to enable better understanding of the systematics, relationships, genetics and potential use of the important spice-containing family Zingiberaceae – including an online Resource Centre – to underpin conservation planning and sustainable use. All of these projects link to Goal 15.

Challenges and next steps

Scotland’s performance against Goal 2 represents a mixed picture. Food insecurity in Scotland remains a significant challenge, particularly for those from socio‑economically deprived backgrounds. Considerable work is underway in Scotland to mitigate the impact of UK Government welfare reforms, which are a key driver of increasing household food insecurity. This includes providing significant funding for advice services, fully mitigating the Bedroom Tax, and delivering the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and the Scottish Welfare Fund. The £3.5 million Fair Food Fund is supporting communities to respond to food insecurity in a way that promotes dignity and provides help to tackle the root causes of poverty. The Scottish Government aims to protect people from against the worst effects of welfare cuts. However, for every pound spent on mitigation measures, there is a pound less that can be spent on boosting the economy, encouraging job creation and lifting people out of poverty.

The Scottish Government also continues to press UK Government to make improvements and ensure safeguards are in place for those who need them. This includes calling for a halt to the rollout of Universal Credit, where the five week wait for a first payment is causing clear hardship. We are further working to ensure people have sufficient income, including by promoting the living wage and embedding a rights‑based approach in the design and delivery of our new Scottish social security system – this includes help to ensure that people can claim the money they are entitled to.

On environmentally sustainable agriculture, Scotland is performing well overall but more work needs to be done to encourage and ensure sustainable agricultural practices. The Scottish Government will continue to work together with the agricultural sector to support behavioural change and shift to low carbon farming practices through a range of activity including the Farm Advisory Service, the Beef Efficiency Scheme and Quality Meat Scotland’s Monitor Farm Programme and Young Farmer Climate Change Champions.

The EU Common Agricultural Policy and associated funding dictates the framework for agricultural support and environmental standards. A UK exit from the EU will result in great uncertainty for agriculture, including for standards, funding, exports and markets, and labour. The current EU framework and multi‑annual budgets significantly impact on the delivery of sustainable agriculture in Scotland – not just for the direct support to farmers, but also for grants and support for other aspects such as environmental land management, forestry, research and advice.

The Scottish Government has proposed a period of stability and simplicity until 2024 to maintain certainty for farmers, crofters and land users. Support schemes for active farming, food production, environmental improvements, forestry and rural development fundamentally will largely stay the same. However, it is intended to simplify and streamline schemes and processes where possible. This should allow continued support for sustainable agriculture. For some time, future budgets were unknown and the Scottish Government and stakeholders had called for the UK Government to confirm budgets, and that Scotland receives their fair share following the current review of intra-UK funding allocations. The Bew Review on domestic farm support funding published in September 2019 recommended that Scotland’s farmers should be allocated an extra €60 million over the next two years to reflect Scotland’s unique circumstances. This recommendation was accepted by the UK Government.

This contributes to the ongoing delivery of the agriculture policy outcomes set in the current Climate Change Plan and progress towards Scottish climate change targets. In response to the Climate Emergency and following the advice from the Climate Change Committee, the Scottish Government will also be widely consulting on the transformational policies needed to feed into the update of the Climate Change Plan.

Commitments in the Scottish Government’s 2019-20 Programme for Government that relate to this Goal

  • Lay before the Scottish Parliament a Good Food Nation Bill to support the ambition of a Scotland where everyone takes pride in and benefits from the food we produce, buy, cook, serve and eat every day
  • Introducing the Rural Support Bill to Parliament, which will enable the amendment of retained EU law relating to the EU Common Agricultural Policy
  • Fund the “Food for Life” programme to promote and encourage local sourcing through public sector contracts
  • Continue to deliver and further develop agriculture Sector Plans; this year the Scottish Government will launch a Beef Sector Plan and work with industry to develop a Poultry Sector Plan with a Scottish quality mark
  • Work will begin this year to support an evidence-based approach to crop selection and production, and strategic development of organic farming
  • Supporting the establishment of a land matching service to link new entrants to farming with existing farmers and crofters who wish to retire



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