Turning challenges into opportunities - 8 January 2021

To my mind there’s no such thing as problems, there’s only challenges that need to be overcome, writes President elect Martin Kennedy as the industry enters 2021.

‘Let’s get Brexit done’ is something we had been hearing about for some time, and as the 11th hour approached there was clearly still some challenges to be overcome if we were going to leave the EU with a deal.

Leaving without one would have been devastating to much of the industry for many reasons, not least the export tariffs that would have been applied to many of our products.

Thankfully, a deal was reached which resulted in a huge sigh of relief from the vast majority of the industry.  However, there are still some issues that need to be overcome, not least around seed potatoes, and the trading of breeding sheep between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

I must admit that I’m always optimistic and try to look on the positives of any scenario - some will say I’m too optimistic - but unless we think positively, we will never resolve the challenges.

To my mind there’s no such thing as problems, there’s only challenges that need to be overcome, and the seed potato issue which plays a very important part in Scottish exports is something we will be able to rectify.

The reason I think this is because there is a great demand in Europe for our high health seed tatties. This is a product that is required to not only grow ware but to also grow further seed in Europe, so both sides will be keen to resolve the issue of no dynamic alignment which has been highlighted as the problem.

The breeding sheep issue however is different in that this is a trade that is suffering even although it’s an export to another part of the UK.  

But as the Northern Ireland protocol ties the north with the republic in terms of export health certification requirements, the need for scrapie monitored sheep in the Republic means the same requirements need to be in place in the North.

This, to my mind, will be a trickier one to overcome but we need to address it.  This trade has been going on for a long time to the benefit of both countries and there has never been any health risk identified to the sheep sector in the south. So, let’s not moan about it, let’s deal with it until we get it resolved.

A wise man told me many years ago that ‘what’s in front of us won’t go by us’ we just have to deal with it when it gets here and make the best of it.

This is absolutely true and let’s not forget that what’s in front of us now is much better than what we might have had to deal with.

Yes, we are going to have to face some more real challenges soon.  That includes designing a modern agricultural policy fit for Scotland, that delivers not only on food security, but also plays its part in climate change mitigation and environmental enhancement.

These challenges are not threats, they’re opportunities that have the potential to highlight why Scottish farmers and crofters are proud to take the lead in sustainable food production.  

Author: Martin Kennedy

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Andrew Moir

324 days ago

Agree entirely Martin, a great opportunity at the moment to shape farmer and climate friendly options.
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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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