Future agricultural policy in Scotland must have a strong environmental focus to help farmers reach net-zero, claims the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN).
The organisation, which represents more than 2,000 farmers across the UK, made the comments as it launched its manifesto ahead of next week’s Scottish Parliamentary elections.
The NFFN’s demands include adopting a “public money for public goods” approach to future agricultural support payments and ensuring support schemes enable farmers to “implement and embrace a holistic approach” to emissions reductions and reaching net-zero by 2045.
The network also wants government to invest in, and promote, local food systems, to educate the public about food, farming and nature, and to maintain pressure on the UK Government to ensure Scottish farmers are not undercut by lower quality food imports.
“The future Government will be presented with a unique opportunity to deliver a clear roadmap and ambitious policies that put nature and community resilience at the heart of food production,” said NFFN Scotland chairman, Michael Clarke.
“With the right tools and support in place, farmers can lead on reversing biodiversity loss and the transition to a net-zero economy.”
He said a consumer survey, commissioned by NFNN and carried out in September last year, found public support for nature friendly farming with 84% of Scots calling for future agricultural policy to support farmers to improve the environment and wildlife on farms.
It also found 82% want their local MSP to support Scottish farmers that farm with nature.
Isle of Skye crofter Phil Knott, who is a member of NFFN, said adopting a nature-friendly approach to running his croft has significantly improved biodiversity on the holding.
He encouraged the next intake of MSPs to listen to the demands outlined in the NFFN manifesto and said: “As more farmers look to diversify, now is the time for politicians to recognise the importance of farming with nature, not against it.
“I will be asking my MSP to prioritise the survival of Scottish farm and croft businesses by delivering nature-friendly farming policies, and I would like to encourage farmers across Scotland to do the same.”