New climate group builds towards low-carbon future
Rural economy secretary for Scotland, Fergus Ewing, has announced a new farmer-led group which will examine how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the suckler herd.
Co-chaired by Jim Walker, the group will consider proposals for alternative ways to support the suckler sector to mitigate its environmental impact and identify practical ways in which it can reduce its emissions.
It will also produce recommendations to improve the efficiency, productivity and profitability of Scottish beef, including changes to breeding and feeding practises and the restoration and improvement of natural on-farm habitats.
Announcing the group, rural economy secretary, Fergus Ewing, said: “Our beef sector must change and adapt if we are to meet our ambitious climate change and biodiversity targets.
“While our Programme for Government has already set out steps in response to the climate emergency, I have asked Jim Walker to chair a farmer-led group to specifically look at what our beef suckler herd needs to do and bring forward initial proposals next month.
“I have been clear that our farmers, crofters and land managers are part of the climate solution. But equally, I am clear that achieving our legally binding commitments will require everyone to consider what they can do to ensure they play their part in driving the sector towards a low-carbon, sustainable future.”
Co-chair, Jim Walker, added : “The industry has faced multiple challenges over the last 25 years and its resilience and ability to rise to these challenges and adapt is remarkable. Providing progressive beef farmers with the tools to make their businesses more productive and efficient, alongside measures to improve on farm emissions to help fight climate change, is yet another chapter in this story and is potentially game changing.
“Naturally reared, climate friendly Scotch suckler bred beef needs to be differentiated from imports and dairy beef to give consumers a clear choice. This initiative will give those farmers who want to be involved a real chance of delivering this, helping make their businesses more robust.”
Martin Morgan, SAMW executive manager, said: “We have been calling on Ministers to do more to arrest the long term decline in the Scottish suckler herd for a long time. We therefore welcome today’s announcement as an opportunity to breath new life into our primary production sector which we believe can be the bedrock of a environmentally sustainable and profitable scotch beef industry. With the entire supply chain needing to play a part in addressing the global climate challenge, there has never been more a pressing time for the Minister to act. We applaud the formation of this new group and look forward to hearing and studying its recommendations.”