24th June 2011

Future Proofing Scotland’s Farming - new project to improve profits and sustainability

A new £200,000 three year project to improve sustainability and profitability in Scottish agriculture was launched at the Royal Highland Show today [Friday 24 June] by Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment.

The new initiative, ‘Future Proofing Scotland’s Farming’, aims to prepare agricultural businesses for the impacts, opportunities and risks that both climate and economic change bring. It will be delivered by the Soil Association in partnership with Quality Meat Scotland, NFU Scotland and SAOS and is being funded by the Scottish Government’s Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) skills development scheme.

The focus will be on boosting producers’ bottom line through improving efficiency, productivity and performance at farm level including the use of green technologies. Farmers will be offered practical advice on how to raise the financial performance of their businesses and benefit the environment.

The project will also deliver practical measures in support of the joint statement on climate change issued by NFU Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland and SAOS last year. Farmers and land managers will have the opportunity to take part in 23 on-farm events covering a range of areas including animal productivity and health; nutrient management; water and wetland management; woodland management and biomass; anaerobic digestion and an introduction to low carbon farming.

Launching the new initiative, Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said:

“It’s vital that our farmers take action to ensure their businesses are sustainable and ready to face challenges such as climate change. But it’s not enough for them to be sustainable, they must also be profitable - and that’s where this new scheme comes in. Funded through our SRDP skills development scheme, the programme will help farmers boost their efficiency, productivity and performance.”

Laura Stewart, Head of Soil Association Scotland, is delighted to be able to deliver this new programme of work, in partnership with QMS, NFUS and SAOS. She said:

“The team at Soil Association Scotland is really looking forward to creating a series of exciting events with expert speakers and farm visits to engage land managers in new ideas and opportunities. The aim is to help farming businesses save time and money whilst also lessening their overall impact on the environment.”

Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said that over many years of surveying livestock enterprise profitability QMS has repeatedly identified the importance of livestock productivity to maximising profitability. He said:

“There is still scope for farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their livestock enterprises and improve margins. This new project should help achieve this by striving for excellence in the physical performance of stock and improving the efficiency of inputs, particularly feeds and manures.”

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