Agricultural sustainability identified in review of food in Scotland

FINANCIAL support for farms that operate ‘sustainable agricultural practices’ is one of a series of recommendations made by a 45-strong coalition of organisations concerned about Scotland’s food supply.

According to a report issued by the Scottish Food Coalition (here): “Scotland is 98 per cent rural and most of this land is devoted to agriculture.

“However, the best arable land is largely used to produce animal feed or grain for the alcohol industry, rather than food for human consumption.

“In 2020, the total area used to grow cereals and oilseeds was dominated by barley and wheat (85 per cent), while vegetables and soft fruit production only represented 0.4 per cent. Scotland holds more than 50 per cent of the UK’s soil carbon and the government’s efforts at restoring the country’s peatlands, which emit vast amounts of carbon dioxide, is a further pressure on land, along with forestry, re-wilding projects, housing and other activities.”

The coalition goes on to say: “Concerns around access to land for growing food are not limited to rural areas, as urban growing spaces remain a very low priority in many local development plans and planning strategies, despite statutory obligations to provide land for allotments and community growing projects.”

It continues: “We see a Scotland where policies are based on the concept of ‘public money for public goods’. Sustainable agricultural production, including agroecology and organics, sustainable fishing and other regenerative methods that protect nature and restore biodiversity, promote better animal welfare, and mitigate climate change, are supported. Farms practising sustainable agriculture are given financial incentives, business and infrastructure support, education and training. The amount of sustainably-cultivated land expands.”

Adds a media release, issued today: “The report makes over 50 recommendations for national and local policies that, if implemented, could improve the environmental, health and economic outcomes of the food system. Key amongst them is the Good Food Nation Bill, currently going through [the Scottish] Parliament.”

Members of the coalition include WWF, Unison Scotland, RSPB and Citizens Advice Scotland.

Picture credit: Place Design Scotland

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