NFU Scotland has set out its manifesto ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary elections on Thursday, 6 May 2021, with calls for agriculture, food and rural issues to be front and centre of political debate
The union’s manifesto for the elections recognises that Scottish agriculture is in a very new and increasingly demanding political, economic, environmental and social context, compounded by the Covid-19 crisis and the UK’s departure from the EU, and sets out four priorities for the next Scottish Government and Parliament over the next five years.
- A green recovery from Covid-19 that enhances sustainability in food production and enables agriculture to play its role in addressing the climate change and biodiversity crises.
- A viable and rewarding agricultural sector for current and future generations.
- A transparent supply chain and food system which supports Scottish producers and recognises the public benefits that agriculture provides.
- A resilient and enterprising rural economy that offers opportunities for all.
“It is more important than ever that the next Scottish Parliament and a new Scottish Government enables a sustainable food production sector, which contributes to climate ambitions, improves biodiversity, air and water quality, and allows all consumers access to fresh and affordable local Scottish produce,” said NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy at the manifesto’s launch.
He said that delivering the nation’s economic, environmental, and social needs will be pushed beyond reach unless political will facilitates the need to adapt and change, and that farmers and crofters are ready to play their part but, for the last five years, positive progress on rural policy in Scotland has been slowed down by the Brexit debate.
““Moving out of the shadow of Brexit and the CAP, Scottish agriculture will look to the new Scottish Government to work with the sector to deliver a new agricultural policy for Scotland that will deliver our key ambitions,” continued Mr Kennedy.
Central to the policy, he said, should be addressing the climate change challenge, which will set the policy agenda over term of the next Scottish Parliament.
“Necessary emission reductions targets and the ambition to double the value of Scotland’s food and drink sector to £30bn by 2030 must be addressed simultaneously, creating the need for the next Scottish Government to ‘invest’ in agriculture to reap the returns required,” he explained.
“For that to happen, we need the Scottish Government to work collaboratively with UK Ministers on favourable trade deals, and to prioritise our standards of production in these. We also must ensure the integrity of the UK’s internal market is upheld, as this is critical to Scotland’s agri-food interests.
“It is apparent to all that we are entering a transformational time for Scottish agriculture where we will shoulder more responsibility than ever before. The industry’s willingness and ambition to adapt and change must be matched by a political agenda that is positive, ambitious and supportive. The next Scottish Parliament and Government must enable and ensure farmers and crofters can deliver Scotland’s needs.”