Scottish farm businesses are being urged to have their say on environmental sector plans for dairy and crop production.
Views are being sought on the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) consultations, which close on 15 February.
The sector plans set out how SEPA will ensure all businesses comply with environmental laws in response to mounting scientific evidence about climate change, environmental impact and resource scarcity.
They also set out a series of “beyond compliance” goals that aim to promote sustainable business models by reducing the amount of materials, energy and water used in agriculture, promote innovation and reduce overall impact.
There are two consultations on the dairy sector currently open for responses – one on dairy processing and a second on dairy production.
The Dairy Production Sector Plan includes all on-farm activities that are necessary for the production of milk from the farming of dairy cows.
This includes growing grass, keeping livestock, maintaining cattle sheds and milking parlours, managing manure and slurry and recycling and optimising reuse of a farm’s resources.
In particular, the consultation says tackling diffuse pollution and compliance issues is a “key area”. SEPA warns it will apply “increasing scrutiny, prescription, fees and the use of enforcement and monetary penalties for those who fail to comply”.
It lists four common areas of non-compliance dairy farm businesses must address: poorly managed or ageing farm infrastructure; water drainage issues; insufficient on-farm slurry storage; and livestock poaching – allowing cattle to poach land and unrestricted access to drink from watercourses, which increases the pressures on farm soils and erosion.
The Dairy Processing Sector Plan consults on opportunities to drive further significant reductions in energy, water and materials use throughout the sector’s operations.
SEPA’s Crop Production sector Plan sets out a vision for a “prosperous and resilient” crop production sector that produces crops to feed Scotland and beyond.
The consultation asks 20 questions on how SEPA and partners can work together to tackle the environmental effects of crop production and non-compliance in areas including pesticide use, soils, nutrients, water, energy use and flood management.