Scotland is on course to earn a place as a world-leader in sustainable farming, according to Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change.
Speaking at Quality Meat Scotland’s industry breakfast this morning (Friday 21st June), Mr Wheelhouse said: “Scotland has the natural resources and academic and engineering expertise to become a world leader in sustainable farming.”
“Farm efficiency measures will help reduce costs and achieve even wider benefits. For instance, more efficient use of nitrogen will lead to additional benefits for water and air quality as well as biodiversity.
“With ever-increasing fertiliser prices, this must be welcome by farmers and research carried out by Scottish institutes shows us how to further optimise inputs, and production efficiency which can also help farms become more financially resilient.”
If Scotland is to play its part in feeding the world, said Mr Wheelhouse, there would need to be recognition that two‑thirds of Scotland is only suitable for rough grazing.
“Livestock production is the only viable means of these areas contributing to global food production and the secondary benefit of rough grazing is to protect the valuable habitats of a range of animal and bird species, and protect Scotland’s carbon-rich soils,” he said.
“And we can’t fail to note that Scotch red meat is a prime product of Scotland’s thriving food industry.
“All of this points to the fact that Scotland’s farmers should not be seen as part of the problem – they are part of the solution to the climate challenge,” Mr Wheelhouse added.
This morning’s event saw QMS launch a new publication highlighting the crucial social, economic and environmental sustainability contribution of the Scottish red meat industry.
Jim McLaren, Chairman of QMS said the “Scotch Sustainability” document was an example of the organisation’s commitment to delivering clarity on our industry’s very positive sustainability role.
“From a food security standpoint the challenge for our industry, as global demand for quality meat continues to rise, is to produce more livestock more efficiently, using fewer inputs.
“We are constantly striving to raise the bar to improve efficiency and reduce waste from field to plate,” said Mr McLaren.He added: “It is vital that the Scottish industry remains on the front foot in terms of the increasing the uptake of proven technical and other solutions to improve production efficiency. We are fortunate to have some of the world’s top research facilities on our doorstep producing this kind of information.”