Farming should not be ‘fall guy’ for climate change, says NFUS

Farmers in Scotland are being urged to sign up to a scheme to reduce the industry’s carbon emissions and help the country prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Over three years farmers will be invited to attend workshops and practical demonstrations in a bid to cut down the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The scheme aims to counteract a recent report which found farming and land-based industries could be contributing 25% of Scotland’s GHG emissions – significantly higher than the figure for the UK as a whole.

Developed by Soil Association Scotland and backed by the Scottish government and Rural Development Programme, the £202,000 programme is open to both organic and conventional producers.

However most of the techniques being taught – including improving soil management, reducing dependence on inputs and increasing carbon sequestration – are those practiced by organic farmers.

Other events will focus on converting to organic production, reducing GHG emissions through green technologies and producing home-grown feed.

NFU Scotland president Jim McLaren welcomed the industry’s opportunity to help mitigate against climate change, but warned that farming had to guard against being the “fall guy” for society in general.

“Agriculture has to be seen as part of the solution rather than part of the problem,” he added.

“We can’t be expected to change the planet. But sustainability in the longer term will depend on being able to adapt production methods to become even less carbon consumptive.

“This programme has a lot to offer in terms of developing and encouraging best practice among farmers without adversely affecting their ability to produce food and maintain the environment.”

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham added that the programme was about practicalities. “And farmers are nothing if not practical,” she said.