Farmers, researchers and academics from Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Ireland, the USA and from across the UK will gather in south west Scotland tomorrow at a conference to discuss the growing appetite for ethical farming and food production.
The Ethical Farming Conference is being co-organised by four Scottish farms – Mossgiel Farm, Peelham Farm, Rainton Farm and Whitmuir Organic – and will explore regenerative models of food production that directly address public concerns about climate change, biodiversity and animal welfare. The conference venue is Rainton Farm, home of The Ethical Dairy, the largest cow with calf dairy farm in Europe.
Wilma Finlay of Rainton Farm said:
“The conference is the start of a conversation that invites our industry to meaningfully explore the very real concerns that the public has with current food producing systems and how we might address them. Ethically produced food is an important emerging market and livestock farming needs to have a place within that market.
“In the past few weeks we’ve seen a ‘climate emergency’ declared by political leaders across the UK. We’ve also seen the publication of the UN’s IPBES report on devastating biodiversity loss, with the report calling for more sustainable, regenerative and ecological farming - exactly the topics that are being addressed in this conference.
“85% of Scotland’s agricultural land is officially classified as ‘less favoured’ agriculturally and many of those farms in the ‘severely disadvantaged’ and ‘disadvantaged’ areas are already farming ecologically or could transition to agri-ecological farming relatively easily.
“There has never been a more important time to address these complex issues and there is a clear opportunity for Scotland to take the lead in incentivising ecological farming; pioneering a pasture-based, regenerative approach that is as sustainable as it is productive.”
The conference will be opened by Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment. Mairi Gougeon said:
“For a relatively small country, Scotland’s efforts to tackle climate change, support farmers, and ensure the highest standards of animal welfare mean that we should be leading the way internationally in ethical and sustainable farming. I know that there is already a lot of enthusiasm for this amongst Scotland’s farmers but I would encourage everyone working within the industry to embrace taking a more future-focused approach to their work, to ensure that we continue to produce an abundance of food and drink, in an increasingly unpredictable global climate.”
Full programme information is available on the conference website: www.ethicalfarming.org