NFU Scot­land’s pri­or­i­ties for ‘Brexit elec­tion’

The Oban Times - - FARMING -

AHEAD of the ‘ Brexit Elec­tion’ on Thurs­day June 8, NFU Scot­land has used its man­i­festo to call for the next UK Gov­ern­ment to de­liver a good deal for Scot­land’s agri­cul­ture, food and drink in­dus­tries for forth­com­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the union’s man­i­festo, a good deal for Scot­tish agri­cul­ture will de­pend upon se­cur­ing three pri­or­i­ties. Firstly, ‘ bold and am­bi­tious free trade agree­ments with the EU and in­ter­na­tional trade part­ners, which up­holds ex­act­ing stan­dards, lim­its reg­u­la­tory di­ver­gence and pro­tects the UK mar­ket from cheap im­ported pro­duce.’

Se­condly, ‘a re- drawn agri­cul­tural pol­icy with a ringfenced bud­get that is geared to­wards ac­tive, ef­fi­cient and pro­duc­tive agri­cul­ture – with the pol­icy pri­or­i­ties de­vel­oped and de­liv­ered by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.’

And thirdly, ‘ a sen­si­ble ap­proach to ‘con­trolled im­mi­gra­tion’ which al­lows the Scot­tish agri­cul­ture and food pro­cess­ing in­dus­tries ac­cess to EU work­ers for sea­sonal and per­ma­nent, skilled and un­skilled posts.’

Speak­ing af­ter the man­i­festo’s launch, NFU Scot­land pres­i­dent An­drew McCor­nick said: ‘ The cur­rent gov­ern­ment is on record stat­ing that ‘a good deal will be one that works for all parts of the UK’ and we will want to hold the gov­ern­ment formed af­ter June 8 to that com­mit­ment.

‘ We have used our man­i­festo to de­fine what a ‘ good deal’ will look like for the Scot­tish agri­cul­tural and food and drink in­dus­tries and how NFU Scot­land will work with the new UK Gov­ern­ment to achieve this ob­jec­tive. NFU Scot­land is un­der no il­lu­sion about the chal­lenges pre­sented by the ne­go­ti­a­tions to leave the EU, un­do­ing more than 40 years of the com­mon agri­cul­tural pol­icy in the process. Brexit will un­doubt­edly present us with op­por­tu­ni­ties and the chance to look for­ward but that needs UK ne­go­tia­tors to se­cure a good deal.

‘Ir­re­spec­tive of the de­ci­sion to leave the EU, Scot­tish agri­cul­ture re­mains very vul­ner­a­ble to fluc­tu­a­tions and shocks, threat­en­ing prof­itabil­ity and the abil­ity to in­vest in the sec­tor. The lat­est fig­ures show that Scot­tish farm in­comes have fallen by a dev­as­tat­ing 75 per cent over five years.

The need to se­cure new trad­ing deals, poli­cies and sup­port ar­range­ments that put the pros­per­ity, prof­itabil­ity and sta­bil­ity of farm­ing and croft­ing busi­nesses top of the agenda has never been more im­por­tant.

‘It is clear agri­cul­ture is vi­tal to Scot­land and the UK’s fu­ture. The new UK gov­ern­ment must recog­nise the diver­sity and unique chal­lenges that Scot­tish agri­cul­ture faces as it takes for­ward its vi­sion for the United King­dom.

‘In Scot­land alone, farm­ing gen­er­ates an an­nual turnover of £ 3 bil­lion and is the driv­ing force be­hind a food and drink sec­tor turn­ing over more than £14 bil­lion. The raw ma­te­ri­als pro­duced by the 65,000 peo­ple em­ployed in Scot­tish farm­ing are the corner­stone of a fur­ther 75,000 busi­nesses and 360,000 jobs in the food and drink in­dus­try.’

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