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We want to be a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture: Cabinet Secretary’s Insights from COP26

Joining the final episode of Quality Meat Scotland’s (QMS) current podcast series focusing on themes from COP26, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon MSP, outlines her thoughts on historic summit, the role of agriculture in meeting net-zero targets and the growing anti-meat lobby.

In conversation with QMS podcast host Mark Stephen, Ms Gougeon expressed her disappointment that key issues were watered down in the final Glasgow Agreement.

“There was a lot of disappointment expressed that the climate pact didn’t have everything in it and that key issues were watered down in the final hours. But, also, we have to recognise that the summit did make progress on some of the important issues as well.”

On the final agreement and the implications for Scotland reaching its own climate targets, Ms Gougeon acknowledged that the agricultural industry has an important role to play.

“We already have some of the most ambitious targets in the world when it comes to climate change and there are pledges from the Glasgow Agreement for us to go further and faster.

“Scottish agriculture has a critical role to play in addressing climate change and, from a Scottish Government perspective, its future has a clear and ambitious aim. Essentially we want to transform food and farming in Scotland so we can be a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.”

The Scottish Government announced its National Test Programme which aims to help farmers and crofters understand their impact on climate and nature.

“I have to stress that we don’t have a policy to actively reduce livestock numbers which I know is a concern I’ve heard raised a number of times.

“I think the changes that will need to happen are improvements in efficiency, and that’s going to benefit the industry in the long run, and to be able to promote our environmental credentials and the reputation that we do have for high-quality food.

“The £51million of funding over three years will support farmers and crofters to understand how their work impacts the environment and establish their baseline by undertaking carbon and biodiversity audits as well as nutrient management plans.”

Advocating the impressive sustainability credentials of the Scotch brands in the face of a growing anti-red meat lobby, Ms Gougeon said:

“I really want to assure everyone in the red meat sector – whether that’s farmers right through to the consumers who are eating renown produce such as Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork - that we are right behind them.  I want our red meat sector to be portrayed in a positive light.”

To listen to the full podcast, head to Apple Podcast, Buzzsprout and Spotifiy, or head to the QMS website or social media channels.