TO SAY that Martin Kennedy will have to hit the ground running in his new role as custodian of the big chair at NFU Scotland, might be a bit of an understatement. But in the past 30 years, we don't think there's been an easy street for agri-politics to go down.

However, the blind-siders that were thrown at his predecessor, Andrew McCornick, that no one could have predicted – like Covid-19 and its after effects, and the extreme demonisation of certain parts of the industry regarding greenhouse gas emissions – will not disappear.

But it's good to hear that Mr Kennedy remains adamant (see our exclusive interview on page 12) that productive farming can go hand in hand with measures to reduce the nation's carbon footprint.

The industry can only 'guess and fear' – as Burns aptly put it – at some of the policies being put in place south of the Border. But, in fact, he has a steadfast ally in all of this in that the Scottish government is quite keen to show that a different approach to anything Westminster does, can work!

What must be guarded against, though, is that an entrenched Civil Service might not have the same chutzpah when it comes to cocking a snoot at Westminster. That means that the laudable aims of the current working groups charged with a new 'green-print' for Scottish agriculture – the Climate Suckler Beef Group's submission having been already produced and very publicly endorsed by Fergus Ewing – are largely adhered to.

There is a big prize here. For the stage is set to present Scotland's agricultural vision to the world at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference – which is to be held in Glasgow, in early November – that agricultural support schemes can be engineered to deliver sustainable quantities of high quality food and at the same time meet the increasingly urgent aim of carbon neutrality.

This will be a time to tell the world – and at the same time deliver a smack to some of the more implacable green gobs – that agriculture can be the solution to many GHG issues and yet still remain productive. So many have been convinced that planting trees is the 'only way to go', but Scotland has a chance to prove that a melange of sensible planting targets and a sensitively supported agriculture can deliver.

What would help focus the whole thing would be for an internationally acceptable system of measurement for the carbon footprint of agriculture – free from any political bias – that is able to be tailored to specific geographical reference points.

At the moment, these range from something that Chris Packham might have dreamed up to an incomprehensible jumble of data from NASA that nobody understands. This needs to be addressed with some urgency and with crystal clarity. There's no point being in a hurdles' race, when the height and width of the fences keep changing.

So, the biggest test facing Mr Kennedy – outwith any further googlies – will be to keep his and many other's vision of a carbon neutral industry, that does not shirk from its responsibility to keep the nation fed, from being derailed by factionalism from those green gobs!