Farming and Food Production Future Policy Group

Date published: 20 June, 2019


On the 10 January 2019 Parliament agreed to “establish a stakeholder group involving representatives from producers, consumers and environmental organisations to help government thinking through challenges faced by farmers and crofter and how policies might be adapted to help”.[1]


The Group will explore and make recommendations on future farming and food production policy built around the six principles set out in the January debate with a view to making clear recommendations for future policy development for Farming and Food Production in the course of 2020.

The themes were:

Sustainability; Simplicity; Profitability; Innovation, Inclusion, Productivity

A phased approach is being considered with an initial focus on reviewing the evidence base, the policy recommendations and the practical suggestions made by the NCRA; Agriculture Champions; Greening Group; Simplification Task Force and policy proposals published by a range of stakeholder organisations.

The intention is both to seek advice and ideas from the group but also to use it to test the Government’s own ideas and emerging proposals.

In taking forward their work the group will be asked to consider what types and approaches to farming are viable in Scotland (considering both intensive and extensive systems) based on current markets and future markets and to highlight the challenges existing farmers and crofters face in being able to adapt to these opportunities.

Recommendations made by the group will taking into account of both geographic variation across Scotland and the size of units required for viability.

While intending to focus sharply on practical suggestions that can support farming and food production, looking across the supply chain, the group will also need to take on board wider policy priorities – global climate emergency and moving to net zero emissions faster; maintaining populations in rural areas; inclusive growth; low carbon economy; global, outward looking nation; tackling poverty and inequality.

Membership of Farming and Food Production Future Policy Group


Andrew Watson (Chair) Director – Directorate for Strategic Land Use and Rural Policy

John Kerr – Head of Agricultural Policy - Directorate for Strategic Land Use and Rural Policy

George Burgess – Deputy Director – Directorate for International Trade and Investment.


Martin Kennedy - National Farmers Union Scotland

Sarah Allison - Quality Meat Scotland

Lucy Husband - Food and Drink Scotland

Marion McCormick - Former Aldi Executive

Robbie Galloway - Scotbeef

Aoife Behan - Soil Association

Anne McCall - RSPB Scotland

Deborah Long- SE Link

Ian Muirhead - Harbo

Joyce Campbell - Sheep farmer, Entrepreneur

James Graham - Beef 2020 Industry Group and Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society

Lisa Buchanan - Crofter

Robert Graham - Graham's Family Dairy Group

Hugh Campbell-Adamson - Stracathro Estates

Alison Milne - Demperston farm

Lochy Porter - Angus Fruits

Farming and Food Production – Future Policy Group

August 2019 update

The group was announced at the Royal Highland Show in June, and held its first all-day workshop on 14 August 2019. The remit of the group is to develop policy recommendations to benefit farming and food production in Scotland post 2024.

In addition, the group has an opportunity to inform proposed pilot schemes for the wider rural economy from 2020-2022.

The work is being overseen by the Sustainable Land Use and Rural Policy Directorate of the Scottish Government with an emphasis on openness and innovation.

This first workshop was designed to:

  • share information on the ambitions of government and its performance framework
  • remind members of the significant amount of work that has already been undertaken and can be built upon
  • hear different perspectives within the group
  • discuss the policy development process and plan for future workshop sessions

Alongside presenting factual and policy information, the group emphasised the way it wanted to work. This included being open with perceptions and interests in the room and a willingness to listen and hear all the voices in the debate. The group recognised that change is never easy and requested the approach adopted is one of respect and open communication. The group recognised the need for robust discussion on individual views within a space of confidence while, at the same time, ensuring there are clear communications with those not in the room, to allow individuals and businesses to reflect on the direction of travel. As part of that commitment, the group agreed to produce a ‘cascade note’ following each meeting.

In the morning session, the group received presentations from those who had been involved with the CAP Greening, Agricultural Champions, NCRA, Women in Agriculture, Climate Change, Stability and Simplicity, the Just Transition Commission, 1.5 farming, Steps to Change and the work of the Soil Association. In addition, the Scottish Government provided a summary of baseline evidence [1] and the group welcomed the opportunity of being able to use the Academic Advisory Panel to help with testing the evidence base.

In the afternoon, the group looked at what further preparatory work is required before entering into the specifics of the policy development process. As part of this preparatory work, the group signalled a desire to test the existing evidence base and policy recommendations at the next meeting using the framework of strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats.

In preparation for the next meeting, the group is now working on:

  • collating the requirements of relevant government policies and strategies
  • setting out what successful farming and food production might look like in Scotland beyond 2024 and how that success integrates with the wider rural economy
  • developing a Communication and Engagement Strategy
  • assessing the feasibility of different land management options as contributors to the climate change emergency
  • providing a series of case studies, the challenges they face, their viability and contribution to sustainable land-use
  • filling evidence gaps and bringing best practises from around the world to the table

Monthly meetings are envisaged through until Dec 2019.

A range of key statistics included in the presentation can be found here: