A CONSENSUS pathway for making Scottish farming climate compatible has been agreed – but the task now is to have the Scottish Government make it policy.

Presenting its conclusions, the 'Farming for 1.5°' Inquiry stated that, as agriculture accounts for 20% of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions, ScotGov cannot achieve its ambitious climate targets without a transformation in farming.

Farming for 1.5° was established as an independent inquiry in 2019 by NFU Scotland and Nourish Scotland. The panel has since heard evidence from experts on farming practices, environmental impacts and behavioural change; and conducted farm visits. The independence of the Inquiry enabled all panel members to contribute views freely and develop their thinking collectively, without any pre-determined constraints.

Its key recommendations include:

• whole farm contracts to deliver on farming and nature from 2024;

• reducing total emissions from agriculture while maintaining food production per capita;

• rapid uptake in low methane breeding for cows and sheep.

Co-chair Nigel Miller said: “Being part of the 1.5° group has been a fascinating journey which through integrating food production, biodiversity, the wellbeing of both rural communities and landscape into a net zero solution, has left me optimistic about the future of rural Scotland.

"The inquiry journey has reached into soil health and sustainable cropping, in some ways revisiting principles which were established in the 18th century with the first agricultural revolution. Cutting edge science, precision techniques and genetics have also been a significant focus. Both approaches will be part of the net zero future.

"The report, built on consensus, breaks through the tired soundbites that often dominate the climate change debate and block smart solutions," said Mr Millar. "The transformation pathway mapped out by the group is a holistic plan which balances the three core goals; food, biodiversity and the 2045 net zero target. It delivers for society as a whole but also provides an integrated route for farmers, crofters and land managers to deliver diverse and sometimes conflicting policy priorities.”

Co-chair Mike Robinson added: “I hope this model is one that Scottish Government can draw inspiration from for any future advisory boards and that the findings are taken on fully. Scotland can’t achieve its national targets without the full engagement of the agricultural sector, and whilst that clearly requires change (as it does for every sector) it also requires wider support from Government and many others across the industry and society.”

Pete Ritchie, farmer and Director of Nourish Scotland said: “With COP26 a few weeks away, this report sets out a just transition for farming in Scotland, maintaining livelihoods and food production while transforming the impact of farming on climate and nature. This consensus approach takes time: but we’re only going to get the change we need by working together.”