NFU Scotland has today (Wednesday 19 October) published two discussion documents as it considers the future for farming and crofting in a post-European Union (EU) era.
The discussion documents, which will form part of a series titled ‘Beyond Brexit’, focus on trade options and a future policy framework for Scottish agriculture following the UK’s exit from the EU.
They will form the basis of discussion at NFU Scotland branch and regional meetings in the coming months, with all members encouraged to submit their views on what their priorities are for the upcoming negotiation.
NFU Scotland’s Board of Directors are also taking the documents directly to MPs at Westminster as they host a parliamentary reception in the House of Commons next Tuesday (25 October) for an event focusing on Brexit and Scottish farming, crofting and food.
Allan Bowie, President of NFU Scotland commented: “Whether it is the 65,000 directly employed in agriculture who manage and preserve Scotland’s beautiful landscape every day, or the 360,000 employed in the wider food and drink industry, the contribution of the Scottish agriculture industry to the wider economy must not be undersold. Agriculture has a fundamental role to play in Scotland’s future, but this future can only be secured by the right policy framework in a post-Brexit era.
“Whatever agricultural support policy is developed post-2020 will depend upon the trade arrangements that are secured with the EU and the rest of the world, which is why the Union has published these two discussion documents at once.
“It is my hope that these documents will stimulate discussion amongst NFU Scotland’s 8,500-strong membership about what trading arrangements and policy framework will allow them to continue to play their vital role in sustaining vibrant rural economies, flourishing environments and thriving communities. This is one of most important discussions we’ve held within our membership in a generation, and we encourage all to get involved.
“A big fear of many farmers and crofters is the combination of fast removal of direct payments, while much if not all of existing regulation remains, combined with limited market access and more exposure to cheaper imports. The very anticipation of this scenario is sufficient justification for government to step in and provide confidence and reassurance to producers.
“However, there are opportunities – to grow exports and promote the fantastic ‘brand Scotland’ in overseas markets, stronger food labelling, and a support system which properly addresses activity, maximises opportunities for new entrants and delivers a range of public goods. The Union will be taking this message to Westminster as we meet MPs next week.