Branch agm tackles independence

New branch chairman Alistair Hodge
New branch chairman Alistair Hodge

Scottish independence was the subject of debate at the NFU’s Mid and East Berwickshire branch annual general meeting in Duns.

Speakers at the meeting of about 20 producers in the Black Bull pub were the Conservative Borders MSP John Lamont and SNP MEP and member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, Alyn Smith.

New chairman Alistair Hodge of Whitsome East Newton, Duns, said: “My personal impression was the meeting was generally against independence. There are too many ifs and buts and no guarantees on what is going to happen after the vote.

“It kept going back to the White Paper the SNP is still to publish and that giving all the answers.”

Farmers’ concern would centre on what would happen to European cash: “Most farms are dependant on the Single Farm Payment to keep things ticking over.

“If we were to miss a year (during any changeover) it would be catastrophic, it would put people in a tricky if not impossible situation,” said Alistair.

But under more immediate focus is how the reformed CAP will pan out and the wait for the Scottish Government to issue a consultation paper on allocating the money, expected at the end of this month, he said.

Alistair, whose 385-acre farm is currently an arable monitor farm, takes over from outgoing branch chairman, Neil White, stepping down after his two-year term and Alexander Home Robertston, Paxton South Mains, Berwick becomes vice chairman.