Commitment to Scottish agriculture needed amidst upheaval

Following the announcement of the resignation of Scotland First Minister Humza Yousaf earlier this week the National Sheep Association (NSA) is highlighting the subsequent threat the current lack of confidence in the Scottish Government poses to the nation’s agricultural sector.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker said, “The loss of another First Minister in Scotland puts the whole ministerial team at risk of upheaval and is a huge blow to any kind of continuity we might have expected to developments for the Scottish agricultural industry.

“Scottish agriculture is already tackling an array of issues which have so far been met with lacklustre responses from ministers. Ensuring Scottish farmers and their produce are represented and at the forefront of future decision making is now key in ensuring Scotland and the rest of the UK can be a food secure nation. There must be action and decision on any future policy direction, significant timelines and meaningful detail to allow the best possible opportunities for agricultural business to forecast and plan for the future.”

With the Scottish Government having also announced the abandonment of its 2030 climate targets last month NSA believes further confusion over environmentally focussed farming schemes could follow.

Mr Stocker continued, “Scottish agriculture is making huge progress to tackle climate change, in many cases more than most other industries. We must not forget that while agriculture accounts for 10% of the production of national greenhouse gasses (GHG) this is emissions only and this figure takes no account of carbon sequestration, holding carbon in soil, hedgerows, shelterbelts, trees, and even wool, that is provided and created by farming.

“Farms could do even more with the right incentives, to reduce methane emissions and further reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based inputs. More carbon sequestration opportunities also exist in and around farmland, but these practices require financial incentives and reward offered by the Government and so continuity of work on the future of the sector is crucial.

“We are seeing time and again a lack of commitment from the Scottish Government and support for the agricultural industry. We must make farming and food security a priority for the health of the nation but also as a key component in tackling climate change.”

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