Farmers and crofters can be part of the solution to climate change if they are backed with the right support policies.
That was the message from NFU Scotland (NFUS) president elect, Martin Kennedy, while giving evidence to Scotland’s Climate Assembly – a group of citizens tasked with making recommendations on how to tackle climate change in Scotland.
In his video address to the assembly, Mr Kennedy said climate change, and how the farming industry deals with it now, is something that will dictate the sector’s future for generations to come.
“If we chose to ignore it then the future is bleak, but if we listen to the science which is evolving all the time, then there will be a fantastic opportunity to maintain a sustainable future for all our species,” said Mr Kennedy, who farms near Aberfeldy.
“For farmers and crofters, food production, climate change mitigation and environmental enhancement are all linked.
“From a Scottish perspective, if we take a holistic approach to all three of these issues and are given the right tools in the toolbox to address them, then we in Scotland will be in pole position to lead the world on how to reverse the current situation.”
Mr Kennedy said the agricultural sector had achieved a “remarkable reduction” in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, and those working in the sector were willing to do more to meet government targets.
However, this requires future agricultural policy to be based on activity with greater incentives to utilise land productively and improve soil health, as well as recognition that much of Scotland is well placed to produce high-quality protein through grazing livestock, added Mr Kennedy.
“Time is not on our side so if we want to lead from the front, we need to act now,” said Mr Kennedy.
“Using science and technology is the way to drive change in all sectors of agriculture to allow us to play our part in climate change mitigation, but this will require long-term government commitment.”
He added: “NFU Scotland, and wider Scottish agriculture, are keen to work with Scottish Government to deliver on their ambitious climate change targets but we need to be supported to make the transformational changes required.”