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Published: Monday 02 September, 2013

michael and kors michael and kors A Forward Strategy for Scottish Agriculture

Agriculture is a key contributor to the wider rural economy in Scotland, to the environment and to the sustainable development and growth of rural communities and their local economies. Five per cent of the rural workforce is directly employed in agriculture. Agricultural primary production contributes 1.3 per cent of gross value added in Scotland. Its output forms a vital input to the wider food and drink industry, which represents one of our largest manufacturing sectors, accounting for about onefifth of gross value added and onefifth of employment in Scottish manufacturing. Farming is the dominant landuse in Scotland and the environment which it creates is important in its own right for example in terms of landscape and biodiversity and is of direct economic importance to tourism.The Executives refreshed strategy for A Smart, Successful Scotland published in 2005 highlighted the importance of key national industry sectors, and their sustainable growth, to Scotlands economy. These key sectors include food and drink, and tourism. It provides an overarching link for a range of strategies addressing business, economic, environmental and social sustainability. As part of its Partnership Agreement, the Scottish Executive is committed to maintaining strong, prosperous and growing communities in rural Scotland; to ensuring that more Scottish food is processed in Scotland; to encouraging localised food distribution systems; to using more local produce; and to supporting local marketing schemes.When A Forward Strategy for Scottish Agriculture was published in 2001, the industry was gradually emerging from a prolonged downturn caused by a combination of factors including BSE, poor currency exchange rates and depressed commodity prices. These difficulties were exacerbated by Foot and Mouth Disease which had struck early in 2001. There have been some positive developments over the past five years such as a 54% increase in Total Income from Farming between 2000 and 2005, but the industry is undoubtedly still facing significant challenges through continuing pressure on output prices as well as increases in some critical input costs.The goals and actions set out in this Strategy are intended to help ensure that Scottish agriculture is one of Scotlands success stories prosperous and sustainable, benefiting all the people of Scotland.CAP reform and tradeA fundamental aspect of the 2003 CAP reform package was the decoupling of agricultural support from production. A further significant feature of the CAP package was the degree of regional flexibility it offered. As a result of that flexibility, strongly advocated by Scottish Ministers, Scotland was able to opt for full decoupling subject only to the Beef Calf Scheme which provides support for the beef industry, as well as environmental benefits. Decoupling allows more farmers to make production decisions in response to the needs of the customer rather than subsidy scheme rules. Adopting this marketorientated approach to meet changing consumer demands is vital if farm businesses are to become profitable. By removing the incentive to maximise production for subsidy, decoupling may also influence farming practices and help to reduce pressure on the environment.Farmers receive Single Farm Payments in return for meeting crosscompliance requirements but they may also qualify for payments in recognition of work done to deliver additional public benefits such as environmental enhancement, better recreational access or improved animal health and welfare. Scotland has pioneered the concept of Land Management Contracts to deliver these different types of payment and this will be further developed in implementing the Scottish Rural Development Plan for 20072013. Looking further ahead, we can expect other changes, such as financial pressures which may lead to reductions in the level of Single Farm Payments. These changes should take account of the legitimate needs of farming communities and allow time for adjustment. They must also recognise the important role of f michael and kors armers in producing food as well as managing the environment and delivering public goods.International trading arrangements are also changing. Current World Trade Organisation negotiations may have a major impact on prices if, as seems likely, all export subsidies are ended by 2013. Looking further ahead, increased market access to the EU may have further consequences for some sectors. On the other hand, the prospect of reopening continental export markets for beef represents a significant opportunity for Scottish producers. It is important to acknowledge and respond to the effects of CAP reform and changes in international trade without being deflected from longer term michael and kors plans michael and kors and investments. We need to encourage enterprise and innovation, make good use of our world class research institutes and increase sustainable productivity to develop a forward looking and profitable industry that will attract new blood, retain existing talent and help more farmers acquire relevant business skills to adapt to a changing world.Health and welfareThe Animal Health and Welfare Strategy sets out a tenyear vision for improving animal health and welfare standards. It recognises that healthy animals are more productive and result in better quality food which benefits producers and enhances Scotlands reputation as a quality food producer. The Strategy has established targets for eradication of endemic diseases such as TB and for the reduction of avoidable conditions such as lameness. It has also set out a framework for preventing outbreaks of exotic diseases, such as Foot and Mouth Disease. Delivery of the Strategy is being overseen by the Scottish Animal Health and Welfare Advisory Group comprising representatives from the industry, vets and the Executive and nearly 4,000 farm businesses have taken up the option of Animal Health and Welfare Management Programmes under Land Management Contracts. In addition, the Animal Health and Welfare Scotland Bill provides for enhanced powers to respond to exotic disease outbreaks and the Executives Biosecurity Code sets out a series of practical steps that can be taken to limit Scotlands vulnerability to any future outbreak of animal disease.Human health can benefit from having affordable access to good quality, nutritious food. Quality assurance schemes have an important part to play in reassuring consumers about the food they buy and eat. A key aim of the Executives agenda for health and nutrition is to produce safe, healthy products so that all consumers have access to affordable, nutritious food. Eating for Health: meeting the challenge provides the strategic framework for implementing the Executives commitments to healthy diets. The Executives Hungry for Success initiative has improved the nutritional standard of food served in schools and similar initiatives are under way for hospitals, care homes and prisons. These initiatives offer scope for increasing the use of fresh local produce.Living within environmental limits ultimately, all human activity is dependent upon the environment, and we must safeguard land, water and air, and the biodiversity that is supported by these resources, for future generations. For example, farms and crofts in remoter and more fragile areas may not be economically viable on the basis of food production alone. Nevertheless, such enterprises can deliver valuable social and environmental outcomes and contribute to the conservation of our cultural heritage in the most remote communities. Since the publication of A Forward Strategy for Scottish Agriculture in 2001, evidence about the prospect of significant climate change has continued to mount. The industry can make a contribution towards mitigating climate change by, for example, making more effective use of renewable resources; managing land to minimise carbon loss; managing methane emissions which can be a potential resource as well as a problem; reducing other greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide; and becoming more energy efficient.There are also business opportunities, such as the production of energy crops and conversion of byproducts into energy. Food miles arising from national and international food distribution, from producer through intermediaries in the food chain to the consumer are a recognised source of greenhouse gas emissions; these can be reduced through increased transport efficiency and greater use of locallyproduced food. Efficient use of energy within farm businesses can also help to reduce costs while benefiting the environment. michael and kors