Pre­par­ing farm­ers and crofters for change

The Oban Times - - Farming -

NFU Scot­land used Scot­land’s pre­mier agri­cul­tural event to put a vi­sion for Scot­tish agri­cul­ture at the heart of Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Us­ing last week’s Royal High­land Show – which took place at Inglis­ton near Ed­in­burgh – as a plat­form, the Union rolled out its dis­cus­sion doc­u­ment ‘Change – A New Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy for Scot­land Post-Brexit’ to mem­bers, stake­hold­ers and politi­cians.

The doc­u­ment will be the stim­u­lus for dis­cus­sion and de­bate with mem­bers at al­most 30 agri­cul­tural shows this sum­mer; a fo­cus for the Tory Party con­fer­ence and the union’s au­tumn con­fer­ence in Oc­to­ber; a driver for de­bate at AgriS­cot in Novem­ber and the ba­sis for a round of re­gional mem­ber meet­ings across Scot­land pre- Christ­mas.

Recog­nis­ing that ex­it­ing Europe presents the chal­lenge of un­pick­ing more than 40 years of oper­at­ing within the Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy, the union’s vi­sion for the next decade is to cap­i­talise on new mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties cou­pled with a new do­mes­tic agri­cul­tural pol­icy that will move our farm­ers and crofters to a po­si­tion where mar­ket re­turns are the pri­mary driver of prof­itabil­ity.

The dis­cus­sion doc­u­ment maps out a de­liv­ery model from now un­til 2027 to un­lock that po­ten­tial through a fairer sup­ply chain, a sup­ported tran­si­tion to new pol­icy ar­range­ments and a pos­i­tive cul­ture to de­velop those who cur­rently live and work in the Scot­tish coun­try­side and the gen­er­a­tions to come.

Speak­ing at the High­land Show, pres­i­dent An­drew McCor­nick said: ‘A year on from the Brexit vote and our politi­cians have de­liv­ered lit­tle in terms of cer­tainty or sta­bil­ity around the process.

What is clear to all, though, is that change is in­evitable but that change must be man­aged and not chaotic.

‘Start­ing now, the op­por­tu­nity ex­ists to de­velop a dif­fer­ent, re­freshed sys­tem which, by 2027, can cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for the peo­ple who rear and grow our food to have a pros­per­ous, prof­itable fu­ture and to con­trib­ute even more to Scot­land’s suc­cess.

‘ En­gag­ing with our mem­bers, stake­hold­ers and politi­cians, this is NFU Scot­land look­ing to put the foun­da­tions in place that, a decade from now, will en­sure Scot­tish agri­cul­ture is prof­itable, in­no­va­tive and ef­fi­cient with our farm­ers and crofters se­cur­ing a fair re­turn from sup­ply chains, al­low­ing them to be less re­liant on di­rect sup­port.

‘ We be­lieve that a fairer sup­ply chain, a sup­ported tran­si­tion to a new agri­cul­tural pol­icy and in­vest­ment in those com­mit­ted to pro­duc­ing the best food and drink in the world will cre­ate that plat­form.

‘Cru­cially, this is a dis­cus­sion and, with in­put from our mem­bers, it will keep NFU Scot­land on the front foot in ne­go­ti­at­ing a Brexit deal that sup­ports our vi­sion and am­bi­tion.

‘ That process starts here and at the High­land Show, NFU Scot­land will meet lead­ing politi­cians from both West­min­ster and Holy­rood with whom we will share our vi­sion and chal­lenge them to de­liver on it.

‘ We will meet with fel­low Scot­tish stake­hold­ers at the end of June, and from June through to Septem­ber, my­self and my fel­low vice pres­i­dents will be at al­most 30 agri­cul­tural shows the length and breadth of Scot­land where we want to hear from our mem­bers.

‘ NFU Scot­land staff and of­fice­hold­ers will be in West­min­ster on a monthly ba­sis for the fore­see­able fu­ture and, in Oc­to­ber, the union will be hold­ing a fringe event at the Con­ser­va­tive Party con­fer­ence.

Later this year, ma­jor events like our own au­tumn con­fer­ence and AgriS­cot will con­tinue that con­ver­sa­tion and a round of re­gional meet­ings across Scot­land com­pletes the pack­age.

‘ This far reach­ing dis­cus­sion is es­sen­tial. No sec­tor will be more di­rectly af­fected by Brexit than ours and the role of the union in ne­go­ti­at­ing our in­dus­try through the next decade has never been more im­por­tant.’

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