Scotland’s farmers can be at heart of transition to green future

The Agriculture Bill will be a big step forward for green farming.

Our rural communities and farms can be at the heart of our transition to a greener future, says Scottish Greens rural affairs spokesperson Ariane Burgess.

Ms Burgess was speaking ahead of the Scottish Parliament voting on the Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill, which will have its final vote today and will deliver the biggest changes in Scottish farm support payments since the creation of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy in 1962.

The Bill was a key part of the Bute House Agreement, with the Scottish Greens having worked both in government and opposition to ensure that it would support farmers and crofters on the journey to sustainability. 

Amendments already secured by Ms Burgess mean that activities that will be eligible for financial support will now include providing clean air and water and improving access to nature; starting a nature restoration business; and investing in nature-based enterprises and organisations in rural areas.

Ms Burgess will be moving a series of amendments to strengthen the bill and provide greater support for farmers and crofters in their transition to green and sustainable farming.

Ms Burgess said: “Scotland can be a world leader in green and sustainable farming, and this bill has a really important role to play in that transition.

“All over our country there are farmers and crofters leading the change and growing their way to a better future. But they need to be supported, with the Scottish Government putting its money where its mouth is. I hope that all parties will support my amendments to deliver robust targets, better payments and stronger evaluation.

“Agriculture has a key role to play in tackling and offsetting our role in the climate and nature emergencies. Farmers and crofters must be supported to adapt and to make the changes that are necessary to protect our environment.

Ms Burgess will also be moving amendments that would support small to medium scale farmers, crofters and growers seeking to purchase land for food production.

Ms Burgess added: “Small scale farmers play an invaluable role in our food production and in their communities, but, with the current pressures, many are finding it harder to run a sustainable business. 

“Many of them are young and new entrants, and I hope that this bill will provide them with extra support to allow them to purchase and enhance the land around them.”