The apex body for Scotland’s food and farm co-ops has set out its policy wishlist for the sector for this year and beyond.
The Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) says there are a number of market opportunities for the sector but it needs to work together and effectively manage challenges like climate change and new tech.
In the document, A Farming Future, Working Together, it sets out four key priority areas for the next Scottish government:
- identify and develop opportunities to add value to agricultural produce and to increase wider market opportunity and access, across the food supply chain
- promote the development and uptake of all forms of agricultural co-operation and its benefits
- support the food and farming sector to adapt positively to the climate emergency
- empower farming through development, ownership, and uptake of its own technology.
SAOS chair Mark Clark said: “Our manifesto sets out the priorities that we believe are key to supporting the future growth of food and farming.
“We know that co-operation, and working together effectively, in whatever form, are more vital than ever to achieve the opportunities available. Climate change in particular is an area where, as individuals, our impact is limited, but together, with shared knowledge and action, the effects can quickly become beneficial.
“The manifesto highlights our belief that Scottish agriculture must be better supported to reap the benefits of the numerous advances in agri tech and data. We believe that there is an opportunity for Scottish agriculture to work together, such as was done with SAOS on the development of ScotEID, to benefit from developing, using and retaining ownership of its own data.”
CEO Tim Bailey added: “Specifically, we see levelling the playing field between ‘the haves and have-nots’ in terms of high-speed broadband, as vital for any type of business in Scotland today.
“There is money available to roll this out, but the current system isn’t working. We propose that the farming and rural sector be treated as a single community, organised into local areas, with a co-ordinated approach to accessing support for farms and other rural businesses and dwellings.
“We want the next Scottish Parliament and government to work together with us to support Scotland’s primary producers and those in their supply chains, to realise and maximise the opportunities available to them.”