sheep fence firs.jpg

Scotland’s Programme for Government

Scotland’s Programme for Government

Yesterday the Scottish Government set out its Programme for Government for the coming year, and it’s heartening to see that a just transition to a net zero future is at its heart.

We all know that in a time of climate emergency, business as usual isn’t going to cut it. The time is now to tackle the role that food and farming plays in climate change and wildlife extinction, and the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government makes a good start.

Putting Local Food on the Table

We welcome Scottish Government’s reaffirmed commitment to encouraging sourcing more sustainable Scottish food – including organic – through public sector contracts. Scotland’s public sector should be a beacon of good food, and our Food for Life Scotland programme has been funded by Scottish Government since 2012 to support local authorities to serve fresh, local, sustainable school meals. It’s great to see a commitment to build on this good work to put even more Scottish produce on the public plate, and a pledge to work with local government on local food and drink action plans is a crucial opportunity to ensure that this work is joined up at every level.

Mairi Gougeon serves school mealsImage: Mairi Gougeon MSP serves a Food for Life school meal in Wemyss Bay Primary School, Inverclyde

Farming with Nature

Soil Association Scotland is calling for a transition to agroecological farming practices – farming with nature – in the next ten years. We are extremely encouraged by the plan to create an Agricultural Transformation Programme. Many of the practices we advocate for through our Soil Association Scotland farming programmes are specifically cited: good grassland management, farming with trees (agroforestry), organic farming and careful nitrogen management. These practices are ‘win-wins’ for farming businesses and the environment, and we welcome mention of an ‘evidence-based approach’ to crop production.

Also mentioned are ‘pilot schemes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.’ It’s important we use these pilot schemes to explore how we can reward farmers for services to nature and the environment (which benefit us all) that may not be rewarded by the market, such as restoring river quality and farm wildlife numbers. This is something we are advocating for through our participation in the Scottish Government’s Farming and Food Production Group, formed in June to feed into agricultural policy.

cattle in a field overlooking a lochImage: store cattle at Portnellan.

The work we are doing through the Scottish Government-funded Rural Innovation Support Service shows us that supporting farmer-led innovation can bring huge benefits. Helping farmers try new things leads to models that can be shared and local solutions to global farming challenges. We hope that farmer-led innovation will continue to be part of the Government’s vision for the future.

We are heartened by the Scotland Government’s concrete commitments to tackling our climate emergency. It’s now time for action, and we look forward to working collaboratively towards a more sustainable food and farming system for Scotland.