Innovation required to maximise benefits from Scotland's land

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Press Release

Mairi Gougeon MSP to provide keynote speech at SLE Conference

Land-based businesses must be ready and equipped to deal with substantial social, economic and environmental change over the next decade, Scottish Land & Estates said today.

Ahead of the rural business organisation’s annual conference - to be held in Edinburgh on May 15 - SLE said that fundamental changes were required to ensure a bright future for the rural economy in the face of challenges such as profitability in farming, an ageing workforce and poor connectivity.

Mairi Gougeon MSP, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, will provide the keynote address at the conference, with contributions from speakers including Davy McCracken, Head of Department of Integrated Land Management and Head of Hill & Mountain Research Centre, SRUC, rural commentator Rob Yorke, and David Fuller-Shapcott winner of Arable Innovator of the Year at the 2018 British Farming Awards.

Sarah-Jane Laing, Executive Director of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Never has so much been expected from our rural land, whether it be food production, employment, contributing towards climate change targets or creating spaces for recreation and wildlife.

“To continue delivering these social, economic and environmental benefits will require business innovation and a willingness to take difficult decisions about how things are done in the future. Long-term issues such as lack of profitability in farming, an ageing workforce and poor connectivity do need to be addressed, but we also want to promote where creative approaches are already taking place and the role these can play in creating a more agile rural economy.

“We’re looking forward to exploring and debating the way forward at the conference and we are delighted to welcome Mairi Gougeon MSP to provide a government perspective on these topics.”

The conference will be chaired on the day by Ken Rundle, the former BBC Scotland rural affairs correspondent.

Ken Rundle said: “Whatever the outcome of the Brexit debate, the challenges facing Scotland’s marginal areas remain the same.  There is much work to be done to balance the wide-ranging demands being placed on Scotland’s land and we hope a greater understanding of the issues and how to resolve issues can be achieved at the conference.”

With a theme of Maximising the Margins, the conference will examine how to maximise:

•    Productivity on marginal land
•    Opportunities for marginal communities
•    Environmental benefits of field margins
•    Rural business profit margins

The conference is open to both members and non-members of SLE. 

More information on attending the conference is available here