Highland Show: New working group to shape future of Scottish farming

A working group of producers, consumer and environmental organisations has been formed to help shape Scotland’s future policies on farming and food production.

The group will make its recommendations during the course of 2020 and will also look at how to support the industry post-Brexit.

Speaking ahead of the first meeting, this afternoon at the Royal Highland Show, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “People are the food and farming industry’s greatest resource so I am delighted that such an array of talented, experienced and knowledgeable people has agreed to join this group and I look forward to convening its first meeting today.

“It will provide its views and expertise to support Scottish Government officials in making recommendations on future farming and food production policy built around the six principles set out earlier this year to Parliament.

Scotland’s landscape and climate provide us with an unrivalled natural larder. We need to develop policies which support both to ensure that our status as a high-quality producer of food is maintained and grows.

“Crucially, we need an integrated approach that will ensure that Scotland’s land assets play their part in responding to and mitigating the global climate emergency. I look forward to hearing the proposals.”

Membership includes:

  • Andrew Watson (chairman), director of Scottish Government;
  • John Kerr, head of Agricultural Policy Scottish Government;
  • George Burgess, deputy director of Scottish Government;
  • Martin Kennedy, National Farmers Union Scotland;
  • Sarah Alison, Quality Meat Scotland;
  • Lucy Husband, Scotland Food and Drink;
  • A representative of Citizens Advice Scotland;
  • Marion McCormick, former Aldi executive;
  • Robbie Galloway, Scotbeef;
  • Aoife Behan, Soil Association;
  • Anne McCall, RSPB Scotland;
  • Deborah Long, SE Link;
  • Ian Muirhead, Harbo;
  • Joyce Campbell, sheep farmer, entrepreneur;
  • James Graham, Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society;
  • Lisa Buchanan, crofter;
  • Robert Graham, Grahams Family Dairy Group;
  • Hugh Campbell Adamson, Stracathro Estates;
  • Alison Milne, Demperston Farm;
  • Lochy Porter, Angus Fruits.

The six principles behind the group, which were outlined to Parliament earlier this year, were: Sustainability; simplicity; innovation; inclusion; productivity; and profitability.

The group will focus on the period beyond 2024 and will test proposals to support farming and food production.

NFU Scotland vice president Martin Kennedy, who will sit on the group, said: “The challenges faced by Scotland’s farmers and crofters in a post-Brexit era are vast and the reality is that many of the business decisions being made now, won’t come to fruition for several years, but are being made in a vacuum of uncertainty.

“Budget responsibility sits with Westminster, but policy direction sits with Scottish Government and ‘Steps to Change’ gives me a clear mandate on what I will be using to represent NFU Scotland’s farmers and crofters through this group, which is charged with the vital task of setting the future direction for our iconic food and farming sectors.”