Preparing Scotland’s farmers for change

NFU Scotland's Presidential team launch the discussion document at the Highland Show. Left to right are Martin Kennedy, Andrew McCornick and Gary Mitchell.
NFU Scotland's Presidential team launch the discussion document at the Highland Show. Left to right are Martin Kennedy, Andrew McCornick and Gary Mitchell.
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NFU Scotland has 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 as a platform, the Union has 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 (including the Border Union, Duns, Newcastleton and Haddington shows); 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 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.

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 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.

“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. 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.”