Climate committee push to cut livestock prompts Scots anger

Scottish industry leaders have warned a Climate Change Committee (CCC) recommendation to slash livestock numbers in the hope of cutting greenhouse gas emissions will lead to the “demise” of rural communities.

In a letter to the Holyrood Rural Affairs and Islands Committee, Chris Stark, chief executive of the CCC, which advises all UK governments on tackling climate change, said it had modelled cuts to dairy cattle, beef and sheep numbers of 29%, 26% and 26%, respectively, by 2045.

See also: ‘Pitiful’ policy in Scotland forcing farmers to scale back

The CCC’s model assumed a dietary reduction in demand for these products, not an increase in imports from other countries.

Likewise, it assumed Scottish farmers and crofters would not respond to a change in Scottish diets by increasing exports of meat and dairy.

Neil Wilson, executive director of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland, said the letter showed “how removed the committee is from the realities of rural Scotland.

“Repeated assumptions and suggestions to reduce livestock numbers and red meat consumption are oversimplified and misplaced and will, despite their own advice to avoid it, offshore emissions and animal welfare responsibilities,” he added.

“This doesn’t need to be a fight, but as government plans its agriculture policy in Scotland, we need to see more discussion and less telling.

“It will be far from a ‘just transition’ if we see the demise of rural Scotland’s economy and communities, and at what environmental gain?”

Farmers Weekly understands the Food and Agriculture Stakeholders’ Taskforce, formed in late 2022 in response to a lack of engagement from Scottish government through previously used channels, is in the process of drafting a response to the letter.

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