Food must be at the centre of environmental policy decisions – NSA
NSA Scottish Region, the Scottish branch of the National Sheep Association (NSA), has welcomed the Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill; but stressed that policymakers must keep the priorities of food and farming sectors at the heart of decision-making.
The trade body also approved of the Scottish Government’s approach to “enabling low carbon, efficient, productive, resilient farming businesses” – but hoped that, as the detail of the bill becomes clearer, it is not the case that policymakers have “been blinded by low carbon only”.
The NSA added that it hopes Government will recognise that food production will never be emission-free.
Grace Reid, NSA Scottish Region coordinator, said: “NSA Scottish Region is keen to see a farm approach that recognises that agricultural businesses plan years ahead. The direction of policy and future support schemes need to be transparent, so sheep farmers know what is coming in the long-term and feel appreciated for the critical work they carry out on a daily basis.
“Businesses have had to operate in the dark while we wait for this bill and we need transparency and a clear sense of direction as we proceed from here.
“We have a duty to protect the positive practices in which our flocks already deliver for the wider environment and, therefore, society as a whole. Keeping food and farming at the centre of all future policy decisions is imperative, ensuring the environment is prioritised through farming rather than replacing it.”
How will the Bill affect future production?
Reid said: “Our future generations will look back at this opportunity to change legislation and it is vital we do not compromise their ability to deliver sustainable food production, enhance the resilience of farming practices and meet environmental and climate change goals.”
A key priority for NSA Scottish Region when considering the newly published bill is that all implemented powers and policy are fair, simplistic, easy to understand and have a practical approach.
Reid continued: “Following the two Scottish Government consultations, which NSA Scottish Region responded to in full, we will now begin to look in detail at what is included within this bill and engage with our sheep farming members on its content.
“I urge all members to take part in the next phase of public participation, which has promised to provide a way to help design and develop the new framework included within the Agricultural Reform Programme. Topics such as changes to the 2025 Basic Payment Scheme, Whole Farm Plan, regions and measures are to be covered.”