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Sustainable food production message hits home at COP26 farm visits for key influencers

More than 150 local MSPs, MPs and Councillors heard about the importance of sustainable food production for the country, and the benefits of agriculture to the Scottish economy ahead of COP26 opening in Glasgow this week.

Organised by NFU Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland and SAC Consulting, farm visits were held in every parliamentary region of Scotland - Central, South of Scotland, Highlands and Islands, North East, Orkney & Shetland, West of Scotland, Lothian, and Mid Scotland and Fife.  The nine events commenced on a farm near Airdrie, in North Lanarkshire on Friday 10 September and concluded in Highland Perthshire on Friday 29 October, hosted by NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy. 

The weekly series of on farm events concluded ahead the global climate change summit in Glasgow and emphasised the climate change and environmental innovation taking place on farm.  All attendees met local farmers and saw first-hand what action they are taking to help to tackle climate change in the area and hear how, as a sector, agriculture will help the country achieve net zero.   

Martin Kennedy said: “These fact-finding visits demonstrated to our politicians and councillors the many steps that farmers and crofters across all parts of Scotland are already taking to tackle climate change and enhance biodiversity.

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“They witnessed the role of technology and carbon audits in reducing emissions and driving efficiency; the work being undertaken to improve soil health; the role of renewable energy generation and fuel innovation.  They saw the creation of farm woodlands and wildlife corridors to enhance biodiversity and the introduction of clover into grasslands to reduce reliance on fertilisers.

“Huge strides are already being taken on Scottish farms and crofts to drive the country towards its net zero target. NFU Scotland was delighted to work jointly with QMS and SAC Consulting on this initiative that showcased this work.  We hope that those who took part in the visits will use their knowledge to inform and influence decisions that will impact agriculture and those living and working in rural Scotland.”

Sarah Millar, Director of Market Intelligence and External Affairs at QMS said: “The pre-COP26 farm visits were aimed at giving our decision makers tangible examples of the great work that our farmers are doing every day to combat both the climate and nature emergencies. Food and farming production is a key sector of our Scottish economy, and we look forward to cultivating new relationships and further demonstrating this great work over the coming months and years.”

Andrew Bauer, Head of Food & Footprint at SAC Consulting (part of Scotland’s Rural College), added that: “Scottish agriculture knows it needs to do more on climate change. Doing this whilst balancing all the other pressures is a real challenge, and one that requires trade-offs and help if it is to be achieved. These events have given politicians a very real sense of both the challenge, and the opportunities that can be unlocked if farmers are supported on this journey to net zero."