The agricultural industry must embrace the opportunities and rise to the challenges for a vibrant future, NFU Scotland’s President Allan Bowie told the Union’s Autumn Conference today (Friday 28 October).
The Conference, which took place at Battleby Conference Centre, Perth, saw a new, refreshed format this year, focussing on the most pressing issues on the political agenda.
The morning session welcomed the convenors of the two Scottish Parliamentary committees dedicated to scrutinising legislation relevant to the agricultural sector – Edward Mountain MSP, of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, and Graeme Dey MSP of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee.
Over 120 delegates heard about the key legislation going through the Scottish Parliament in the coming months and how the agricultural industry can work with MSPs to inform and influence the process.
In the afternoon session, the Secretary of State, David Mundell, discussed the UK Government’s negotiating position towards the UK’s exit from the EU, focusing on how the interests of Scottish farming and crofting will be best represented. Mr Mundell spoke alongside AHDB’s Chief Strategy Officer, Tom Hind, who addressed the key concerns on future trade agreements, agricultural policy and labour requirements in a panel session dedicated to informing members about the latest Brexit developments.
Opening the conference, President Allan Bowie said: “This is an exciting time for Scottish agriculture. We have an opportunity through Brexit that we’ve never had before – to shape and influence a new agricultural policy, which works for Scotland, and the rest of the UK.
“We need a policy which is designed to suit our farming and crofting practices. It is now our responsibility to get things right for future generations.
“The system we’ve had for the last 40 years, which has been driven by Europe, isn’t working for Scotland or the UK.
“Every single person in this room has the opportunity to input into what would work for this country, for our farmers and crofters, for those working the land who know what would be best and practically possible. Research, innovation and education must also be integral to this new policy.
“We know the markets are in a difficult place, however there is a glimmer of light for certain sectors as prices being paid to farmers start to increase, and margins narrow. We continue to work with retailers and those across the supply chain to fight for better margins for our food producers and better returns.
“As an industry we must embrace the opportunities and rise to the challenges.”
The picture shows Andrew McCornick, David Mundell, Scott Walker and Tom Hind