Farming must be profitable just like any other industry

new president Allan Bowie
new president Allan Bowie

Allan Bowie, NFU Scotland’s newly-elected president, hopes to build more positivity within the Scottish public around all that farming delivers.

In this Year of Food and Drink, he hopes to help Scottish consumers appreciate the challenges farmers operate under while promoting the clear enthusiasm that they have for producing high quality, but affordable, food for the home and export market.

In his latest president’s blog, Mr Bowie said: “In my tenure as president I would like the Scottish public to have the same positive feeling about farming and what farming delivers as I do.

“We live and work in a very volatile and competitive market. As farmers we see this as an opportunity as well as a challenge, securing a fairer share of market value and adding value to our brand, but for this to be achievable we need consumers on board, supporting and buying the food we produce.

“In this Year of Scottish Food and Drink, which is being strongly supported by Scottish Government, we have an ideal platform to promote our food for both home and export markets, which will allow us to meet those challenges.

“The implementation of the new CAP in Scotland will be difficult and we will have to work together to create opportunities for growth, instil more confidence within the industry and secure more investment in order to overcome these difficulties.

“We will rise to the challenge of being more competitive, but farmers need more transparency in markets and a willing consumer to help us.

“The competition in the supply chain within the UK is brutal, with retailers competing very strongly for customers.

“This in the short term gives a good deal for consumers, but puts severe financial pressure on farmers and processors. A more transparent supply chain and more equitable share of margins would help the farming industry compete in this intense competitive market.

“The role of the Grocery Code Adjudicator will be crucial in delivering a better working environment for direct suppliers to retailers to ensure the long-term sustainability of the agri-food sector, but I would like to see this extended all the way down the supply chain. The code in my mind should cover ‘from field to fork’.

“We have a very strong brand in Scotland and a UK/EU market on our doorstep, providing food for many millions of mouths, but we must be careful complacency does not creep in and we lose this advantage.

“Very strong marketing and working with others within the UK is needed to compete in export markets, but also, more importantly, to retain home consumers and displace imports.

“In addition, accurate labelling and robust provenance must be paramount and to their credit the Scottish Government is behind the industry on this.

“All I ask is that consumers have the same thoughts when they go shopping and try to imagine the real cost of food on the shelves, not the discounted price that encouraged them through the door.”