Agriculture (Climate Change)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 10 March 2021.

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Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

6. I refer members to my entry in the register of interests.

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the recommendation by the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change that policies for the agricultural sector must be created rapidly to protect the environment and meet emissions targets. (S5O-05095)

Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

The climate change plan update provides a pathway to transform Scotland’s food and farming sector so that it can continue to produce high-quality and sustainable food, while reducing emissions and enhancing the environment. We are taking action now—the policies are intentionally front-loaded in order to achieve early progress.

We are making rapid progress through our farmer-led groups. The suckler beef climate group’s report offers practical recommendations for lowering emissions, enhancing the environment and boosting business resilience. The programme board is working at pace to consider implementation of those recommendations. Four more groups will report in the spring, with recommendations for other key farming sectors.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

Many farmers are not credited with the positive work that they do to reduce carbon emissions. Does the minister agree with me that it is time to carry out baseline surveys, as doing so would provide a more complete picture of how farmers are part of the solution and not the problem?

Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

My understanding is that that is among the recommendations that we have received.

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

Does the minister agree that the additional funding of £5 million in the budget for agri-environment measures is very welcome? Can he outline other measures in the budget that will support our farmers to adapt their production methods so that they are more sustainable in the long term?

Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

A third of common agricultural policy schemes provide funding to support farmers, crofters and land managers in addressing climate change and achieving wider environmental benefits. The 2020-21 budget includes £40 million to support agricultural transformation. That will be supplemented by the additional £5 million of capital funding.

To support that transition, there is an additional £3.9 million for the Farm Advisory Service to ensure continued provision of high-quality advice. After a number of years spent working for a fairer allocation for Scotland, the Bew funds, totalling £25.7 million, will also be provided to farmers, crofters and land managers to aid transition in 2021-22.