The Scottish Government receives poor marks once again on its report card from the Climate Change Committee. There will be no climate change prizes heading to Holyrood, as their targets for 2030 are recommended for the bin. Worryingly, farmers might end up feeling the force of a humiliated SNP/Green government, which needs to turn the tide on its sinking ship.

Now is the time for some home truths. If we want to continue food production and keep the lights on in the rural economy, any knee-jerk policies to cut emissions need to be carefully considered. Box ticking is no longer sufficient; things need to work or be chucked out.

The report demands a doubling of woodland creation. However, if this simply means more monocultured blocks of pine trees on quality livestock ground, we risk crashing the engine room of Scottish agriculture. If trees are to spread across countryside, then there needs to be a massive overhaul of planting plans to allow for proper integration of woods on farms. Meanwhile, the whole-life carbon impact of tree plantations needs to be double-checked, as there is little point in growing timber to create woodchip for burners that emit carbon back into the atmosphere.

There is already a target to reduce emissions from heating buildings by 71% within six years, which will require 10 times the effort currently being expended. This must mean cash to upgrade drafty farmhouses, as we cannot simply rely on mild winters and hot water bottles. Notably, one in five car journeys needs to cease by 2030 if the government’s targets are to be met, yet a strategy on this seems to be missing, according to the report.

Hopes are being pinned on a significant switch to electric vehicles, but the crazy thing is that an electric car bought today might not make it to 2030 before being scrapped, as replacement batteries are too expensive. Moreover, anyone wanting to run an electric tractor for a full day’s work can forget it.

The danger is that the government might start scrambling to deliver its targets by gold-plating rules for agriculture, which is too often seen as a soft target. Already, we see the simple and effective beef calf scheme, which delivers millions of pounds directly to active farmers, burdened with additional untested rules. Although true to form, the Scottish Government still has not published the detail despite farmer actions in 2024 potentially impacting payments in 2025, we remain in the dark.

One thing we do know is the new rules aim to encourage farmers to have a calf every year. However, if you suggest to anyone in the middle of calving that they are not giving 100% effort to maximise live births, you’ll likely get the calving jack thrown at you.

This week, the political pressure cooker is heating up on climate change, and we need to ensure Scottish farming doesn’t end up getting burnt.