Going down to the wire

Uncertainty and frustration amongst Scotland’s farmers and crofters have never been greater writes Vice President Martin Kennedy.

The mood music in the long running saga around a potential deal with Europe has become increasingly sombre as the spotlight remains on negotiators from the UK and the EU this weekend. 

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that this whole process started on the 23 June 2016, almost four-and-a-half years ago. 

What has struck me over the past months and years is this ‘deal’ we are all talking about was never mentioned when we were asked to vote to either stay in Europe or leave. 

In fact, thinking about all the billions of pounds that will have been lost or spent from both sides between negotiations, mitigation, currency devaluations and lost business opportunities, I just hope the outcome brings a compromise that benefits both sides.  I also wonder if serious lessons should be learned as much of this last-minute turmoil could have been avoided. 

I am obviously no politician but thinking back to when David Cameron asked the EU to allow the UK to have a bit more control over its own destiny, and this was point blank turned down, this then led to the referendum and to where we are today. 

I wonder what would have happened had the EU decided that it is in everyone’s interest that the UK should remain part of the family but deemed it only fair they have more control over their own regulations and laws etc. To me, this probably sounds like leaving the EU with a deal that gives the UK more autonomy. 

That maybe sounds simple, but the reality is that scenario could have saved some serious grief and saved an as yet unquantified amount of grief that’s yet to come, deal or no deal. 

As the saying goes: “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were pots and pans…

We need the EU, and the EU needs us, period. From an agricultural perspective, we need to have some form of regulatory alignment which I accept but having to accept rules and draconian penalty matrixes that simply do not fit our farming and crofting systems here in Scotland and indeed many other parts of the U.K. is ludicrous, hence the reason there are advantages in not being part of the EU. 

There has always been pros and cons to this partnership, and this is unlikely to change regardless of the Brexit outcome.  But if we do reach a deal, and I sincerely hope we do, I just wonder in hindsight if the EU are now thinking, “if only we had listened to what was being asked all those years ago, we could have saved so much and would be in a much better place now.”

Author: Martin Kennedy

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Andrew Moir

1259 days ago

As always it’s the unintended consequences that matters here Martin. Cameron thought he could bluff his way through the hard right rhetoric and the EU negotiation team do not want to give anything away for fear of losing more members. Bit of a catch 22 but let’s hope common sense wins through.......
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About The Author

Martin Kennedy

Martin is a tenant farmer in Aberfeldy, Highland Perthshire and farms with his wife Jane and three daughters. They have 600 ewes and 60 cows on the farm rising from 800ft to 2,500ft. Martin served two years as Highland Perthshire Branch chair, before representing East Central region on the LFA committee in 2009. Martin went on to be Vice-Chair before chairing the committee for three years. He was elected Vice-President in 2017 and elected as President in 2021.

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