Agri­cul­ture lead­ers gather over Brexit

The Oban Times - - Farming -

A RANGE of stake­hold­ers from across Scot­tish agri­cul­ture have met to dis­cuss the chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties pre­sented by the UK’s de­ci­sion to leave the Euro­pean Union.

The meet­ing, held on De­cem­ber 20 at Inglis­ton near Ed­in­burgh was the first of many reg­u­lar dis­cus­sions which will take place into 2017, and saw Scot­tish in­dus­try stake­hold­ers share their mu­tual con­cerns and pri­or­i­ties for Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions.

At the meet­ing, the broad, over­ar­ch­ing is­sues of mar­ket ac­cess, fu­ture agri­cul­tural sup­port and move­ment of labour were dis­cussed – with the group in agree­ment that all in the Scot­tish agri­cul­tural in­dus­try should come to­gether to strengthen the fol­low­ing mes­sage to the UK and Scot­tish gov­ern­ments.

Ne­go­tia­tors must un­der­stand the im­pact of var­i­ous trade ar­range­ments on the dif­fer­ent parts of the agri­cul­tural sec­tor, to en­sure a favourable out­come for all. A bot­tom line is that the Scot­tish agri­cul­tural in­dus­try’s ac­cess to Euro­pean and global mar­kets must not be com­pro­mised, and nor should any fu­ture trade deal leave the UK ex­posed to im­ports pro­duced at a level lower than the UK’s ex­act­ing stan­dards.

A so­lu­tion must be found which al­lows in­dus­try to re­cruit and re­tain both skilled and non-skilled labour from out­side of the UK for per­ma­nent and sea­sonal posts.

There is con­cern about mar­ket in­sta­bil­ity and fluc­tu­a­tions in the years im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the UK’s exit from the EU, which is why the mech­a­nism and struc­ture of agri­cul­tural sup­port will be so im­por­tant.

There will be an on­go­ing need for agri­cul­tural sup­port. It is vi­tal that there is a pol­icy and bud­get fit to the needs of Scot­tish agri­cul­ture, which can be tai­lored to our unique farming, croft­ing and land man­age­ment prac­tices.

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