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Leadership required from Government to achieve a new vision for Scottish farming

 

Government will need to take the lead on tough decisions to truly transform the viability of Scottish farming over future decades, Scottish Land & Estates has said today.

The organisation’s comments were made as part of their response to the interim discussion document from the Scottish Government’s Agriculture Champions.

Scottish Land & Estates said it believed the Scottish Government was well placed to drive change in the sector that would deliver a financially and environmentally sustainable model of agriculture - but that this would require substantial change to the status quo.

David Johnstone, Chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The interim discussion document is a worthwhile first step as we seek to establish a vision that can transform Scottish agriculture over the next 10 to 15 years. Its content in some areas chimes with our own position paper, A New Direction for Scottish Land Management, and we are pleased to see that attention has been given to the continuity and preparation that will be required over the next five years and more as we transition from where we are now.

“Longer term, we believe there is a need for transformational change for Scottish agriculture. We support the agricultural champions call for cross-party approach on this issue.  What we would really like to see however is for Scottish Government to provide real leadership and clarity, not just on the future of agriculture but on a vision for rural Scotland, of which agriculture will be an important component.   

“With Brexit fast approaching, and the UK government expected to be making proposals for south of the Border in the New Year, the clear thinking of where we in Scotland need to be by 2030 and beyond needs to be happening now. This includes public money will be used to support land use in future and how farming in Scotland can be made profitable. We have said we believe the future viability of Scottish agriculture lies in enhancing productive efficiency, increasing and rewarding the delivering of public goods (social as well as environmental) and diversification. There appears to be a fair degree of consensus around this.  It is only government, however, that can ultimately take these decisions.”

Scottish Land & Estates added that government can also lead the way on providing programmes to support new skills for those running agricultural businesses.

Mr Johnstone added: “If the change we forecast is to occur, we need to start developing the skills necessary to operate over future decades. We believe there are three key areas where this needs to happen, and they are in business development, new technology and delivering for the environment. If this is to happen, there will need to be significant resources made available for farm advisory services.

To read the Scottish Land & Estates response click here...

 

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