CIVIL SERVANTS and politicians returning to work after the Scottish Elections are to be presented with a ready-made plan for the future of the country’s farm policy.

Frustrated by the frosty reception given to the work of the various ‘Farmer-Led Groups’ charged with charting a low-carbon course for Scottish agriculture, NFU Scotland this week appointed its own crack team to bring that body of work together into ‘one coherent single farm plan’.

The idea is to create a farm policy proposal that the entirety of Scottish farming will unite behind – and if any civil servants dare repeat the suggestion that the best route to carbon-cutting would be a mass cull of livestock, the industry will be in a strong position to say a firm ‘no’, and offer their own less apocalyptic solution to the carbon challenge.

NFUS chief executive, Scott Walker, said: “When faced with a massive challenge such as climate change, working together on a solution is the best and only way forward.

“Who, in any government, would not want those tasked with all the heavy lifting to take the lead and also take any flak, for the difficult changes that will be needed?” he asked.

“ScotGov’s farmer-led groups were set up to identify a pathway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our industry. They have set a direction that will deliver on Climate Change mitigation, environmental enhancement and maintain farming’s fundamental role of food production.

“That is good for Scottish agriculture and all that it underpins, including jobs, incomes and the economy in Scotland. There was a clear, consistent way forward set and in the case of the suckler beef group, after being given a remit to get a scheme ready to go, it was scuppered at the last minute.

“Proposals from within ScotGov that the way to tackle climate change in agriculture is to cut cow numbers by 300,000 are not just overly simplistic but categorically wrong, a disastrous decision and wholly unacceptable to our industry,” he stressed. “Such an argument shows a lack of vision, ambition and understanding of the interdependency between agricultural sectors.

“We are committed to the work that has been done by the FLGs. We have commissioned well-known industry figures to independently pull together the outcomes from each of the groups into one coherent delivery model that would allow all farm types and sizes to play their part.

“Regardless of who wins the Scottish election and whoever takes on important Cab Sec briefs for Rural Economy and the Environment, we will have a policy paper ready to go that has industry backing,” he said.

“Targets without plans get us nowhere – if the only plan from some civil servants to an incoming minister is to cut cow numbers then the industry says no,” he stated. “Instead, we have a plan and a direction that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and foster biodiversity without compromising food production or the viability of farms and crofts.

"Surely the Scottish Government wants a partnership with the industry that delivers a solution? We cannot allow a few to derail what is in the clear interests of so many.”