SIR, – The Scottish Government has called for a responses to its Agricultural Transition document.

Having spent two months earlier this year visiting farms in New Zealand, I believe the Scottish Government has blown a once in a life time chance to compete on the global market. Having freed ourselves from EU red tape and draconian rules, it appears the Scottish Government is hell bent on more tartanised red tape!

This will require a small army of civil servants and outside contractors. Given the abysmal record of ScotGov in setting up new computer systems, I would not be surprised that out of every pound that eventually reaches a farmers, at least 50% will be gobbled up by administration.

Many parts of the south of NZ have the same climate as Scotland and was settled by Scots in the late 1880s. All subsidies were removed in NZ in 1984 and today you will not meet any farmers who would wish to go back to the days of government subsidies.

In NZ I, was impressed with pasture management and the easy care lambing system. Instead of handouts, Kiwi farmers work together to improve genetics, performance, and carcase conformation.

The NZ Government helps them with marketing and overseas trade deals – at which they are masters. Their biggest coup is the free trade deal with China and the net result is high demand for NZ produce of all kinds in the Chinese and Asian markets.

ScotGov should be investing in marketing our fantastic produce and setting up monitor farms to demonstrate what can be achieved in terms of livestock or crop performance. We need full traceability from plough to plate, or should that be from 'min till to mouth'!

Scottish farming, thus far, has not been given enough of a reward from the market place. Assurance schemes, such as LEAF Marque, add even more costs to farmers but often don’t add one penny to assured produce.

The UK and Scottish governments should impose carbon footprint taxes on all imported foods and insist on a 'Fair Trade'-like system for all home-grown food.

If we are going to introduce whole farm carbon audits, then let’s be honest there is no system out there with ISO accreditation. Agrecalc, for instance, is totally inadequate, it does not properly value hedgerows, or grass sequestration, for example.

The James Hutton Institute is the only Scottish body capable of making an ISO accredited whole farm audit system. But, whichever system we choose must be the same system as used in England.

Carbon trading has the ability to transform farm incomes, but we must be careful not at any cost. In NZ, Ikea is buying up good high-country farms with the sole purpose of planting them in trees, never to be harvested.

Ikea – and I am sure others, such as airlines – can then claim to have offset their carbon emissions. This a trend that, if left unchecked, could see the end of traditional hill farming both here and in NZ.

Our governments must not allow the Green Party to greenwash them into allowing such nonsense here.

Gordon Rennie, Abercrombie, Fife.