A group of leading Scottish farmers has written an open letter to the Scottish Government demanding clarity on future policy for the agricultural sector.
The farmers include those who were involved in the Suckler Beef Climate Change Programme Board – a board established to bring forward recommendations from a government group tasked with proposing ways the beef sector could reduce its emissions.
Those involved in the group have previously claimed their proposals were dismissed by Scottish Government officials, who would rather cull up to 300,000 beef cattle to cut emissions – a claim refuted by the government.
The letter is also co-signed by the chairmen of the government’s other farmer-led climate groups and representatives from various industry bodies including the Scottish Beef Association, Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland, and the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) in Scotland.
In their letter the group refers to the “willingness and desire” by Scottish Government officials to co-operate and collaborate with industry to develop new policies for the sector prior to the Scottish parliamentary elections.
“Since then, no further announcements or firm commitments have been made, despite the fact that the Scottish Government has declared a climate emergency,” said the letter.
“Meanwhile, farmers and crofters remain extremely concerned about climate change, biodiversity loss and many other environmental issues, not just because we have to deal with the subtle but profound changes every day of our lives, but because the environment matters to all of us.”
The letter said those involved in the Scottish farming industry were enthusiastic to embrace the challenges ahead, but frustrated that nothing more had been done to develop future policy.
It added: “Strong leadership is now needed within Scottish Government to harness this enthusiasm and galvanise it into a common vision for all of Scottish agriculture.
“The climate cannot wait. Our ecosystems cannot wait. Farmers should not have to wait for policy to catch up with the momentum that we have generated, and as a society we simply do not have time to wait.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Supporting farmers and land managers in their vital work to address the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change remains a key priority. Work tied to the farmer led groups and the NatureScot pilots will ensure a sustainable, long-term approach that addresses the specific needs of Scotland’s rural landscapes and this includes sustainable food production.”
He added: “We will establish an integrated implementation board for development of new proposals for sustainable farming support within the first 100 days of government. The implementation board will build on the Climate Change Plan update and carefully consider the recommendations of the farmer-led groups, Farming 1.5, WWF, Just Transition and the NFUS when devising practical measures for delivery.”