By NFU Scotland president, Martin Kennedy

AS PRESIDENT of NFU Scotland, meeting with others, collaborating and listening is an everyday part of my role. Being the head of this union, an organisation that aims to improve and secure the future of our industry so its members can continue to produce high quality food in a profitable manner, is something I certainly enjoy. However, just like on the farm, some days can be more challenging than others.

The publication of the Farming and Food Production Future Policy Group (FFPFPG) report last week was frustrating to say the least. I, along with other members of the group, did not sign-off on the report. The reality is if we cannot reach an agreement then we accept that fact and move on, I cannot see the relevance of a report being published by a group of people who are in disagreement. I find it disheartening when those that are involved in the industry who are the ones who face the consequences of decisions made, are invited to discuss and debate the issues are not listened to.

The members of the FFPFPG who did not sign the report felt that the recommendations would not deliver what we were hoping for, and from a personal perspective as someone who was initially delighted to be asked to be on this group, as I thought this was one that would propose a delivery plan, I felt seriously let down as this was not the case.

Engagement, transparency and collaboration were key to the success of the five Farmer Led Groups, starting off with the Suckler Beef Climate Group and followed on by some really intensive work in a short period of time by the other four. The five groups published a set of reports that mapped out a way forward for each sector. These recommendations were endorsed by the very people who are working in the industry, who have the experience to know what will work. These reports have since been pulled together by NFU Scotland and others who have worked on a plan that will deliver real change and support the country in its aim to reach net zero. In the midst of a pandemic, post Brexit, post CAP world in which we live in, agriculture sits in a challenging position. What we need now is a way to deliver this change and deliver on the work already carried out that secures sustainable food production.

We are delighted that the new Cabinet Secretary has committed to establishing the Implementation Board which will introduce the new funding structure for farming, based on tackling climate change and increasing biodiversity. We are keen to be part of that Board, alongside others who are keen to drive this forward. However, if this board does not include the right people who are determined to deliver a meaningful agricultural policy, with food production at its core, then we will find it extremely difficult to be involved. Most people know by now that I’m a glass half full kind of guy, and we have an industry with so much potential that we can make all our glasses overflow. The only thing that will stop this from happening is not making wrong decisions and making sure those making the decisions are fully informed.

We have an opportunity right now to showcase Scottish Agriculture as the industry that’s leading the world in climate change mitigation and environmental enhancement, and Scottish Government also have a fantastic opportunity to go into COP 26 highlighting the fact that they have an industry behind them. The alternative is likely to be continual conflict which will not only fall short of the targets we have in front of us but will also have an adverse effect on our economy, and given the importance of agriculture to the Scottish economy, this is something we ignore at our peril.

(Original blog can be found at