Rural Payments Strategy 2020-21

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 12th November 2020.

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Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

I thank Maureen Watt for that question. I am extremely grateful for the work of Jim Walker, Claire Simonetta and the rest of the forward-thinking members of the suckler beef climate group. The report shows how the sector can take a lead in being part of the climate change solution while, at the same time, delivering as a world leader in efficient beef production. I will give more details of how the farmer-led approach will be delivered in the near future.

I want to assure everyone in other sectors that their contribution will be just as important as that of the beef sector. We started with the beef sector because it is associated with methane emissions and we felt it best to start with the most significant contributor, to show that we are tackling—if you like—the most significant issues first. However, all sectors are important.

The last point that I will make is that it is a farmer-led approach—and deliberately so. My view has been that, when we work with farmers, we are more likely to persuade their peers—who have perhaps done things in a similar way for decades, if not for a lot longer—that those changes can be made to work commercially as well as environmentally.

The early signs, from the press reports and the conversations that I have had, are that the farming community not only welcomes the Walker report and the Miller report but is champing at the bit to fire ahead. Although I will not give a timescale today, I hope to revert soon with one, and it will be a short timescale.