Preparing farmers and crofters for change
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.’