SCOTLAND’S farming and countryside sectors are leading the way in tackling the climate crisis, according to a new report.

The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) Scotland found farmers and rural groups are innovating to meet environmental challenges and improve livestock standards.

It follows a countrywide research project by the organisation’s UK arm looking at how the food and farming industries can work towards meeting climate change targets and inspiring change across the sector.

Examples cited by the commission include the East of Scotland Growers – a vegetable marketing co-op and one of the largest producers of broccoli in the UK, which has helped create a broccoli crisp snack from waste produce.

The Scottish Pig Producers, a co-operative owned by 110 pig farmers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, was also hailed for increasing value for members as well as improving pig health and welfare and creating an emergency response facility for any potential disease outbreak.

Professor Lorna Dawson, the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Scotland Inquiry lead, said: “A system change is required to deal with our climate emergency situation which challenges individuals, farmers, growers, consumers, communities and society as a whole.

“Choices and decisions will have to be made regarding the best course of action to take.

“To make informed decisions on the local scale, trade-offs between one form of land use or management strategy and another are vital to our future in Scotland.”

She added: “As a nation with a large and highly developed agriculture sector that is also working under ambitious and visionary climate change mitigation targets, Scotland provides an exemplar of the challenges climate change poses to our food systems and how these challenges can be addressed.

“Farmers are helping in many ways – as exemplified in the report – by increasing carbon sequestration, halting the loss of vital biodiversity, promoting wildlife habitats, restoring soils and planting trees – responding in a positive way with many innovative solutions to the climate emergency and biodiversity loss.

“Farmers and farming groups are very much part of the solution to the issues of climate change and biodiversity loss.”

Sue Pritchard, director of the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, said: “The climate and ecosystem emergencies are not the only crises we face.

“The scale of the public health challenge is clear, from poor diets and mental health to the effects of pollution and antibiotic resistance.

“Wherever we end up with Brexit, it’s critical that we all ensure that our food and farming system works for climate, nature, rural communities and for the public’s health and well-being.”

She added: “The Scottish Government’s declaration of a climate emergency and Climate Act are hugely welcome but we also need a change in practice to meet our challenges. This report sets out some of the excellent work currently taking place.”