HOW WILL the agricultural industry meet ever more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets? That was the question which was addressed by NFU Scotland during a fringe event at the 2019 Scottish Labour Party Conference, last weekend in Dundee.

The session ‘Agriculture and Climate Change: Working Towards Ambitious Targets’ followed the Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn's conference speech and involved contributions from the Scottish Labour shadow cabinet secretary for rural economy, Rhoda Grant MSP; food and environment policy manager for WWF, Sheila George; and environment and land use policy manager for NFU Scotland, Andrew Midgley.

Union vice-president Martin Kennedy chaired the event’s discussions: “It is right and proper that Scottish agriculture shows willingness to play its part in addressing the challenges presented by climate change and opportunities exist for farmers and crofters to do this in a way that is also to the benefit of their businesses.

“NFU Scotland is committed to playing a positive role in that effort and was pleased to discuss what our industry can do with Scottish Labour parliamentarians and climate change advocacy groups such as the WWF who were on the panel today,” he enthused.

“The farmers and crofters of Scotland are on the front line in experiencing the impacts of climate change, meaning that increasingly the industry has to adapt to changing weather patterns and increased volatility in order to maintain business productivity, environmental output, and food production.

“However, the true picture on emissions is often lost in statistics as the way in which carbon inventories work does not allow for a whole-farm balance sheet on agricultural emissions and land use sequestration,” he explained. “The activities of farmers that sequester carbon or produce renewable energy are often diverted and recorded in other sectors’ inventory figures.

“This means that the policy decisions that could be made to secure reductions in emissions from agriculture will potentially have a major impact on the industry. We must also recognise that agriculture is a source of greenhouse gas emissions and farmers and crofters also have an important role to play in helping tackle the collective challenge that we face,” he continued. “NFUS believes that governments can do much more to lead the way in this area, but progress cannot only be about the government.

“That is why NFUS is committed to working with wider industry and advocacy groups to ensure the approach towards the challenge of climate change is collaborative and the transition to new targets strikes the right balance in ensuring farmers and crofters can continue to deliver both for the environment and in the production of Scottish food and drink to world-leading standards,” he concluded.