Call for new agricultural policy to meet food production and environmental challenges

Lynn Cassells of award-winning Lynbreck Croft, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing, Sheila George, WWF Scotland Food and Environment Policy Manager, and NFU Scotland Director of Policy Jonnie Hall at Saturday's SNP conference.

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NFU Scotland joined WWF Scotland and award-winning crofter Lynn Cassells at the SNP spring conference on Saturday, April 27, to highlight the importance of a new agricultural policy post-Brexit that incentivises and rewards agricultural activity and delivers for the environment and climate change.

The panel, chaired by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing MSP, explored opportunities, challenges, and benefits of working together to meet future climate change and food production challenges.

NFUS used the opportunity to highlight the proposals in its Steps to Change document, mapping out its vision for a new post-Brexit agricultural policy, which focuses on productivity and financial stability in order to deliver environmental benefits.

WWF discussed the challenges that climate change will bring and the opportunities that exist for Scotland to lead the charge in both reducing our contribution to climate change and using our natural resources to build an adaptable and resilient food system.

This is the second fringe event that NFU Scotland and WWF Scotland have jointly hosted during this season of party conferences, and follows a similar successful event at the Scottish Labour Conference in March.

NFU Scotland director of policy, Jonnie Hall said: ‘Moving out of the shadow of the CAP, Scotland needs a bold approach to policy which will make Scottish agriculture productive, innovative and, above all, profitable, while delivering the wide range of public benefits around the environment and climate change that are increasingly expected of our farmers and crofters.

‘In NFU Scotland’s vision, the three components of a new Scottish agricultural policy – financial stability, productivity and the environment – would work together to enable Scottish agriculture to be more competitive, resilient and profitable.  That would allow farmers and crofters to cement their place as the essential first link of a dynamic and fair food and drink supply chain whilst also providing essential public benefits.’

WWF Scotland food and environment policy manager Dr Sheila George said: ‘We’re already feeling the impacts of climate change in Scotland and farmers will continue to be at the frontline when facing this challenge.

‘Scottish agriculture can play a huge role in the fight against climate change, while building resilience, profitability and supporting food production, but it needs support to do so.  This means an open dialogue, a focus on finding solutions, and new rural policy that encourages innovation, efficiency and sustainability.  We must act urgently, ambitiously and together to rise to the climate challenge.’