President's Blog - 20 February

With 13 months until the UK officially leaves the European Union, this week provides a snapshot of the work and dedication NFU Scotland is committing towards securing the very best Brexit deal for Scottish farmers and crofters writes President Andrew McCornick.

Along with Vice President Gary Mitchell and Chief Executive Scott Walker, I will be attending the NFU AGM and conference today and tomorrow (20 and 21 Feb) where Brexit discussions will take a back seat – albeit temporarily – as NFU England and Wales elect a new President, ending the strong and steady leadership shown by Meurig Raymond.

There will be little time to catch our breath as myself and Scott will be in Brussels at the end of this week to meet with European farming Unions and the Commission, with Brexit dominating the debate.

Today (20 Feb), Director of Policy Jonnie Hall will also give evidence to Westminster’s Scottish Affairs committee in Kirkcaldy on the importance of non-UK employees to Scottish food and farming post-Brexit and tomorrow (21 Feb), Vice President Martin Kennedy will give evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee on the implications for Scottish agriculture of the UK leaving the EU.
SRUC has also produced a paper on Post-Brexit trade scenarios highlighting the risks to Scottish farming.  The ‘worst case ‘scenarios in the paper, published at the start of the week, have shown the big threat to our livestock sector of getting it wrong and, unsurprisingly, several newspapers and websites are reporting on this.

You can read the paper ‘Assessing the impacts of alternative post-Brexit trade and agricultural support policy scenarios on Scottish farming systems’ at:

This document once again highlights the very issues NFUS has been raising since June 2016.

Scotland’s iconic red meat sector is particularly vulnerable to a bad Brexit deal. Upland farms, and particularly sheep units, are really exposed to the risks of Brexit and the future of those hill units will be explored in a conference this Friday (23 Feb) at Banavie – run in conjunction with the Lochaber Monitor Farm – where Jonnie Hall will be one of the speakers.
The ‘with’ and ‘without’ current support level scenarios in the SRUC paper shows again the importance to the uplands of the current level of support Scottish farmers and crofters receive. However, all sectors would be damaged by the removal of funding at current levels - though their reliance on it may differ.
Continued stability in support, alongside friction-free access to the EU post-Brexit that is as close to the customs union that we already have, are essential to ensure that farmers and crofters can continue to do what they do - produce food to the highest standards; maintain the environment and the great Scottish landscape; support the many jobs that are dependent on the agriculture industry and the Scottish food and drink industry, and drive the economy of Scotland. 

Author: Andrew McCornick

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