Scottish rural affairs secretary Fergus Ewing has announced another working group to develop future policy on farming and food production.
The group – which brings together producers, consumers and environmental campaigners – will consider how to harness Scotland’s natural assets to produce food and mitigate climate change. It will make its recommendations next year.
It is not the first time Mr Ewing has set up a farming-related advisory group. In January 2017, he appointed four “champions” to help devise a Scottish agricultural strategy.
They in turn established working groups involving a further 55 people. Mr Ewing has established other groups too.
Convening the first meeting of the latest group at the Royal Highland Show, Mr Ewing said its views would support Scottish government officials in making recommendations on food and farming policies built around six principles set out earlier this year.
Those principles were sustainability, simplicity, innovation, inclusion, productivity and profitability.
The group will also test proposals to support farmers and food production beyond 2024 in a bid to provide stability through any Brexit transition.
Mr Ewing said: “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.”
Group members include Perthshire hill farmer and NFU Scotland vice-president Martin Kennedy, Scotbeef chief executive Robbie Galloway, Sutherland sheep farmer Joyce Campbell, former Aldi executive Marion McCormick and Soil Association policy director Aoife Behan.
Mr Kennedy said it was important that policy-makers provided certainty for farmers – and kept productive agriculture at the core of the industry.
“Food production is what we do and we do it very well but it gets taken for granted in Scotland,” he added.
£1m scheme to educate children about food
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has launched a £1m education programme to teach youngsters about food and farming.
The Good Food Futures programme – which will include support for more farm visits – aims to give children a better understanding of where food comes from and the career opportunities within the industry.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Scottish produce is enjoyed across the globe and Scots work in many of the world’s finest kitchens. I want people to enjoy our quality food, but I also want children and young people growing up here to benefit from it too.
“The Good Food Futures programme will help more children understand where their food comes from as well as benefit from it in their school meals. It will also encourage more young people to consider a career in the industry.”
Ms Sturgeon launched the programme at the Royal Highland Show on Friday (21 June). Teaching children about food would benefit farmers, food producers, manufacturers and businesses in the longer term too, she said.