Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Islands to give keynote speech at conference

Press release: 28th February 2023

Cabinet Secretary Announced as Keynote Speaker for RBST Scotland Sustainable Farming Conference

Mairi Gougeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, will discuss how future policy will help put sustainability at the heart of Scottish farming in a keynote speech at RBST (Rare Breeds Survival Trust) Scotland’s sustainable farming conference.

Taking place on 23 March 2023 at Bowhouse in Fife, RBST Scotland’s ‘Farm to Fork – a new, sustainable perspective’ conference will explore sustainable solutions to the challenges Scottish agriculture is facing. Expert speakers and delegates will examine key challenges and opportunities in the transition to a future for Scottish farming where environmental sustainability goes hand in hand with food production.

The conference will be hosted by RBST in partnership with Balcaskie Estate, and sponsored by Galbraith Group, SAC Consulting and Benson Accountants. As well as the Cabinet Secretary, the programme will also feature Christopher Price (RBST), Ceri Ritchie (SAC Consulting), David McKay (Soil Association), Prof Tim Morris (RBST), Doug Christie (Durie Farm), Johnnie Balfour (Pasture Fed Livestock Association), Nikki Yoxall (Grampian Grazers), Roger Baird (Scottish Organic Producers Association) and Adam Forrest (Scotland Food & Drink) among others. See the programme for the day at

Martin Beard, RBST Vice President Scotland, said: “I am delighted that the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands will be speaking at RBST Scotland’s Farm to Fork conference, as we mark in 2023 the 50thanniversary of RBST’s formation. Scottish agriculture faces major challenges over the coming decades, and Government and farmers exploring priorities and perspectives together is crucial to setting the right course towards sustainable farming.

“There is no choice to be made between food production and environmental sustainability, the two depend on each another. This conference will help identify sustainable solutions for challenges such as soil health, carbon and future-proofing Scottish farming, and the significant contributions that our native livestock breeds can make. This is a definitive event for anyone with an interest in a sustainable and profitable future for agriculture in Scotland. Tickets are now open, book your place so that you don’t miss out.”

The event will be chaired by Claire Saunders, RBST Trustee and Chair of RBST’s Conservation & Research Committee. The conference sessions will cover six main themes:

  • Future proofing farming: looking to 2040
  • Soil: rebuilding fertility
  • Biodiversity: reclaiming the balance
  • Carbon: the way forward
  • The livestock food chain: room for improvement
  • Farmers as marketers: adding value

The conference will run from 9am to 5pm on 23 March, followed by a drinks reception until 6pm. Tickets are £30 + VAT and can be booked at

For more information visit

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For more information, interviews or images: Isobel Davidson, or 07725 470917




  1. Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) is the sole charity dedicated to promoting and preserving all the UKs rare and native breeds of farm livestock. Started in 1973, RBST monitors numbers of animals, and threats of inbreeding and geographical concentration. It promotes the breeding and registration of rare and native breeds. Through its 4,500 members, staff and support groups it provides a network of knowledge to support and encourage breeders to reduce these threats. See the website


  1. Native breeds provide a major contribution to our rural economy, both economic and culturally. There are around 30,000 herds and flocks of native breeds in the UK. They contribute over £700 million to UK local economies.

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