'AS WE approach the end of our period of simplicity and stability, which has offered assurance through Brexit, we are moving forward to put in place a successor to the Common Agriculture Policy that will guide farming, food production and land use for many years to come.

This week we’ve laid out the first steps towards our national policy for Scottish agriculture and the reformation of the sector. A policy that we see being led by farmers and crofters and one where they help us to deliver on our world-leading climate change agenda and our response to the biodiversity crisis.

Over the past year and a half, the Farmer-led Groups have engaged the sector and started a dialogue about the future of farming and how Scotland can be a global leader when it comes to sustainable farming and food production. The people in these groups worked extremely hard and to tight deadlines to provide us with recommendations on how the sector could cut their emissions to help tackle climate change and consider the effects of land use change.

The reports they have created are invaluable tools that will form the building blocks of the future of Scottish agriculture. We are grateful to every single person who committed their time and resource to this work, including the many people who provided the groups with evidence.

There is more work to be done and I am determined to continue to work at pace to implement the necessary changes to the sector. To do this, I will co-chair the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board alongside NFUS President Martin Kennedy. I want to thank him for agreeing to share his knowledge and expertise and I welcome and value the opportunity to work closely with Martin as co-chairs to drive forward and lead this vital change programme to give farming and food production the long term, sustainable future we are both committed to delivering.

I’ve established a gender-balanced board representing land based businesses and covering a range of farming, geographical and environmental interests. The implementation board will help us to make early progress in delivering emissions reductions and I have tasked them with developing a package of measures based on the work of the Farmer-led groups for agreement by COP 26 and implemented by Spring 2022. This will include looking at the detailed work taken forward to a more advanced stage by the Suckler Beef Group. This National Test Programme will be funded by the Scottish Government and will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

I look forward to working with the board members closely to deliver the change and the outcomes urgently required. I know it won’t be easy. I hope farmers, food producers and the wider agricultural sector will get behind this national endeavour and help us to change Scotland’s agriculture for the better.

I have also launched a consultation exercise today which will ensure everyone can play their part in shaping the future of farming, food production and land use in Scotland. The consultation, ‘Agricultural Transition in Scotland: first steps towards our national policy’ is open until November 17, 2021, and sets out a number of key questions on the recommendations from the Farmer-led Groups which are intended to inform wider work on the development of agricultural policy and the replacement to CAP.

The work outlined today will directly inform proposals for a future Agriculture Bill. By working together I am confident that we will be able to support Scottish farming to maintain its world leading credentials in an ever-changing environment.'