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Steven Thomson

Research Interests

Steven ThomsonSenior Agricultural Economist

Policy Analysis, Behaviours and Innovation Team

Land Economy, Environment and Society

Scotland Rural College (SRUC)

I am a Senior Agricultural Economist with over 25 years’ experience in agricultural and rural policy analysis.  He has comprehensive knowledge of contemporary agriculture and rural development issues and has been involved in assessing agricultural change, particularly in reference to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), for a number of years. 

I am currently joint coordinator of the Rural Industries work package of Theme 2: Productive and Sustainable Land Management and Rural Economies of the Scottish Government’s 2016-2021 Strategic Research Programme.  This body of work is investigating (i) fam and rural business resilience, (ii) farm and rural business adaptation to external drivers, and (ii) rural business opportunities arising from the circular economy.  Within this body of work there are a number of new analysis and data gathering exercises being conducted – for example through: (i) the Rural Business Survey (with Scottish Enterprise); (ii) the farmer’s intention survey; (iii) network analysis of the livestock sector; (iv) assessment of demand and opportunities for smallholder tenancies;  (v) an evidence review of socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors in Scotland; (vi) A preliminary economic assessment of the veterinary profession’s value to Scotland; (vii) an initial assessment of the importance of hill farming to local economies.

I also act as the SEFARI Gateway knowledge exchange lead for Business and Communities in the Strategic Research Programme - SEFARI being the Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes. In this role he is responsible for liaising with stakeholders and disseminating key research findings relating to rural businesses and communities.

My ongoing work is heavily focused on considering how the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will impact on Scottish agriculture and wider rural society.  I have taken a proactive role in assessing the challenges and opportunities that Brexit may bring – delivering stakeholder seminars, farmer-focused events, and research on the topic. Indeed I am currently supporting work being conducted by DEFRA on potential wider economic impacts of Brexit scenarios and supporting HCC (Meat Promotion Wales) in their consideration of policy options that may best suit the Welsh livestock sector.

I recently lead an extensive review of the use of non-UK seasonal labour in the Scottish farming sector - providing the first quantification of the extent of use of seasonal overseas workers to the Scottish Government.  A short video capturing the key findings of the research was launched at the 2018 Royal Highland Show. In the last few years I have undertaken a number of ex-ante and ex-post analysis that  provide important insights into agricultural policy reforms and their implications for Scottish (and UK) agriculture, providing evidence to levy boards, Scottish Government, Defra and the EU.  I was the specialist consultant brought in by the Scottish Government to support Brian Pack’s independent review of red-tape in farming and rural land management in Scotland – which remains relevant with Brexit removing some of the EU rules and audit pressures.  I have also been involved in projects relating to land reform, including research into the diversity of land ownership, agricultural tenure and seasonal grazing lets, the economic impact of Scottish Estates and the sustainable management of wild deer in Scotland. 

I maintains close links with SAC Consulting and also act as External Examiner for the Agriculture course at Aberystwyth University.


Research Projects

Steven Thomson

Agricultural Economist

Address: Land Economy, Environment & Society, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG.

Telephone: 0131 535 4192

Fax: 01315354345