Develop carbon skills for farmers
The new contract for agricultural advisory services should involve a re-focusing of the service on working with farmers to tackle the climate and nature emergencies; and an emphasis on reaching the full diversity of farmers through flexible and inclusive ‘one to few’ approaches.
The Scottish Government should publish comprehensive plans to realign and upscale the provision of accessible advice and skills development to farmers and crofters to a £20 million a year service. All farmers and crofters should receive the advice they need to transition to climate – and nature-friendly farming, respond to investment opportunities and to deliver sustainable economic and environmental outcomes.
Universal and consistent learning for all farmers, old and new, is fundamental in helping them develop an understanding of climate change and its solutions (for instance, the Climate Solutions course developed by RSGS). Formal education providers for new farmers in Scotland must therefore embed such green skills and knowledge into their provision, dynamically enhancing learning to align with the fast-changing nature of rural land use and financial support systems, and highlighting the positive green career pathways available in Scottish agriculture.
Farming is one of the few professions where there is no formal requirement for continuing professional development, yet existing farmers represent a crucial community through which climate and nature goals can be achieved, and where the technologies and practices required to deliver on these goals are often new and emerging. CPD for farmers must be relevant, accessible, flexible and timely.
Farmers in receipt of public support should be expected to undertake a proportionate level of CPD. Such capacity building can be supported by formal education pathways, such as college and university modular courses, as well as via industry and government-led provision. Ideally it would combine these, to ensure timely and context-appropriate knowledge and capacity building that aligns with changing rural support systems, technical and practical innovations, and a consistently high standard of delivery.
This learning should in turn be supplemented by an effective advisory service. The current advisory service is not adequate for the task of supporting the industry transformation needed and must be redesigned and resourced commensurately.
For further information:
- Farming for 1.5: from here to 2045, 2021, https://www.farming1point5.org/reports
- Unlocking Scotland’s response to the climate emergency: 4 immediate actions to fast-track delivery for the Scottish Government, Climate Emergency Response Group, August 2022, https://cerg.scot/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/CERG-Main-Report-2022-Updated-080922.pdf
- Agroecology: facilitating mindset change, Nourish Scotland, 2022, https://www.nourishscotland. org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Report-Agroecology-facilitating-Mindset-Changepartnership-project.pdf
- Preparing for future AKIS in Europe, European Commission, 2019, https://scar-europe.org/ images/AKIS/Documents/report-preparing-for-future-akis-in-europe_en.pdf