Suckler Beef Climate Group: terms of reference

Terms of reference for the Suckler Beef Climate Group.


1. The Scottish Government has committed to take action on climate change with legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also has committed to contributing towards biodiversity targets. It is important that agricultural businesses are supported to improve their environmental performance, whilst producing quality food for processing within the Scottish food and drink sector.

2. This Group will consider proposals for alternative mechanisms of support for the sucker sector to achieve:

  • improved efficiency, productivity and profitability of beef produced from the suckler herd  and the wider beef sector in Scotland
  • enhanced environmental contribution from the sector through identification of practical ways in which net greenhouse gas emissions of the beef sector can be reduced
  • mitigation of other environmental impacts of production and enhancing  contribution to  sustainable land use, especially soil health and grassland management

3. The group should consider the financial implications of its proposals and consider the time-span over which any proposals should be implemented.

4. Separately to this work, the Scottish Government will consider what arrangements may be put in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for livestock farming in HNV areas.


5. The Group will develop proposals for a new scheme taking account of:

  • production based improvements focussed on:
    • feeding
    • breeding
    • efficiency
    • health improvements
  • potential for capital investment improvements
  • impacts on running costs
  • supply chain improvements in particular encouraging producer groups with the potential to improve market development
  • grassland management including:
    • fertiliser use
    • grass mixtures
    • soil improvement and health
    • slurry and manure management soil improvement
    • Carbon Audits and actions
    • liming

6. The Group may also offer advice regards the costs of the necessary actions and how these might be met, with an estimate of the budgetary implications of any support scheme that might be introduced.

7. The Group will provide a report to Scottish Ministers in  March 2020 to setting out its conclusions to feed into the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan 2018-30 Update. The report should focus on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the suckler herd and recommendations on a support scheme that required to deliver that.

8. Between April and September 2020 the financial implications of the group’s recommendations are to be explored alongside the implications for delivery of any support package that is recommended.

9. The Group shall reconvene in Autumn 2020 to further consider its recommendations in the light of the findings on financial and delivery  implications described in paragraph 7 above.

Chair and Secretariat

10. The Group will be jointly chaired by Jim Walker (Industry) and John Kerr (Scottish Government) and will be supported by SG officials.


11. The Group will include female and male representatives from across the sector. 

12. All members of the Group will be required to register their interests at the first meeting.

13. Membership is listed at Annex A.

Ways of working

14. The Group will take an evidence-based approach to its work; can co-opt the support of academics, industry bodies or others to aid its deliberations and will acknowledge the work of others, where appropriate.

15. The Group should build on the work of the Beef Efficiency Scheme and should consider the work of the Agriculture and Climate Change Strategic Group, the Farming and Food Production Future Policy Group, as well reports on Climate Change and Agriculture from the WWF and Committee on Climate Change.

16. The Group may consider recommending an “opt-in” scheme which might be developed into a more comprehensive scheme (that would last over a number of yeas) or a phased introduction of any recommendations it makes. Members may also wish to consider to what extent the group or individuals from within it could support implementation.

17. The work of the Group will be transparent and meeting papers may be published on the Scottish Government website.

Annex A - Group Members 

  • Robert Fleming                      
  • Debbie McGowan                  
  • Alistair Davidson                    
  • Bruce MacConachie              
  • James Young                         
  • John Struthers                       
  • Hazel McNee
  • Claire Simonetta
  • Iain Livesey
  • Sophie Watt
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