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Farming 'acting too slowly' on emissions

Graeme Dey, chair of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee in Holyrood, told the NFU Scotland conference in Perth last week the agricultural sector is ‘not making sufficient progress’ on climate change and needs to ‘contribute in a more pronounced way’ to meet the emissions reduction targets set out in the Paris Agreement.



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MSP says farming moving too slowly on emissions reductions

He said: “While livestock is the major and obvious issue, we should not be ruling out other things, such as ploughing, because they do not add up to much. Everyone needs to make a contribution and agriculture needs to make a clear case for what it is doing.

 

“We need people to come forward with constructive ideas about how we can help reduce emissions.”

 

But Mr Dey’s comments met resistance from the audience of farmers, who told him the method for calculating emissions from agriculture was ‘too coarse’.

 

Jim McLaren, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said: “My concern is a lot of the reductions in emissions are being met by the country doing less stuff and I am concerned we will end up in a position of doing less with meat production.

 

“There is a simplistic way of calculating emissions from agriculture. We need to get more sophisticated in how we measure them. I am worried any proposals will be lacking sophistication.”

 

Perth upland farmer Jim Fairlie added: “We are under attack from environmental lobbyists who tell the public we are demons and this is why their houses are being flooded.

 

“Hills are the place to get cattle on the ground to keep emissions as low as possible and people should bear in mind we bring great benefits to hills and uplands. They should not all be for planting trees.”

 


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Other key issues at the NFUS conference

Brexit

 

    • NFUS President Allan Bowie said food inflation in the range of 3-5 per cent was ‘inevitable’ as a result of Brexit and the industry needs to make sure any benefit flows back to the primary producer
    • The audience criticised Edward Mountain, the chair of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, for choosing to wait until next year before having the committee make suggestions on the best way forward after Brexit
    • Concerned famers were reassured newspaper commentators with strong views on the environment would not be listened to by committees in Holyrood as they considered a post-Brexit future for food and farming
    • Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said he ‘could not see’ people who worked in the farming industry being refused entry to the UK under any new immigration arrangements after Brexit

 

CAP payment

 

    • Mr Mountain told the conference he was ‘not convinced Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments would be made by the end of June’ and said the Rural Economy and Connectivity committee will be looking at the ‘IT fiasco’

 

Broadband

 

    • Areas with the poorest broadband service would be targeted first by the Scottish Government and it would work back from there, said Mr Dey, reversing BT’s method during the previous rollout
    • Mr Mountain promised to have the connectivity committee put pressure on Government to ensure they delivered enough money to the project

 

Crofting

 

  • The rural economy committee will begin a short-term review into crofting this week to help Holyrood understand what it needs to cover when it looks at the issue shortly
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