Vice President's Blog - 10 January 2020

As farmers and crofters head into the future, we must use 2020 as a launchpad to positivity and common sense about our industry, writes Vice President Martin Kennedy.

Even making this statement will open me up some fierce criticism.  I’m often told that I’m far too optimistic, but we are pretty good at talking the industry down ourselves.  

That doesn’t go down well with everyone else who works in our sector and, more importantly, our consumers who we rely on to buy our produce.

Let’s make 2020 a year of common sense whereby we convey to the general public the real facts determined by our own scientists and researchers about what we, as farmers and crofters in Scotland, are not only providing in terms of safe high quality food but also in terms of what it delivers.

I honestly believe that this year we will begin to get these true facts out there and that will place Scottish agriculture in the positive light it thoroughly deserves.  We have some serious work to do if we are to protect our ability to produce food to the standards we’re used to.

Over the coming weeks and months, NFU Scotland will yet again be lobbying hard in Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels to make sure we get the correct trade deals that don’t sell us down the river.

We will seek to ensure we have a labour force large enough to cope with agricultural demand, and we will work with all governments to maximise the opportunity in front of us to create a new agricultural policy, that not only provides financial stability but delivers on productivity improvements, climate change objectives and environmental enhancement.

All this is doable provided those who make the final decisions listen to those who are be at the coal face and provide the correct tools and support for us to deliver these outcomes.

But governments are not the only body of people we must engage with more.

We must communicate better the positives of what we deliver to the general public. Yet again. there’s more broadcasting targeting us, especially livestock production.

Although less than one percent of the population, vegans seem to be afforded more publicity and airtime to push their views forward.  We must strive to get the balanced view into the public domain.

Our own documentary giving our side of the story would be a good start and that’s something we are trying to achieve.

I’m a ‘VEGAN’ too.  I’ve been “Very Enthusiastically Growing Animals Naturally” for most of my days, and while I’ve been doing this, I’ve been giving these animals a fantastic life as well.

Watching young calves and lambs running up and down a field with their tails in the air is a fantastic sight, something that wouldn’t happen unless they were loving life.  Even in the winter when the cows and calves are inside and you’ve just bedded them again with clean straw, the sight of them tearing up and down the shed is priceless.

We, in Scotland, are not like many other parts of the world and our standards of animal welfare and crop production are something we should be proud of.

Have the single-issue bodies, who wrongly but consistently give us a kicking about animal rights and the wrongs of eating meat, ever considered that if they had their way these animals wouldn’t have a life at all? I don’t think so.

And when you take a close look at the nutritional value and the health benefits of the food we grow here, in comparison to the alternative highly processed, frequently imported mould and soya-based crap that some claim is saving the planet you realise that the best way to look after our planet is to consume locally produced food.

There are so many times where common sense should prevail.  The ongoing debate with glyphosate is a case in point. This is a chemical that has massive benefits to both the agricultural industry and the environment. Not only does it allow many farmers to reduce cost to their businesses by way of reducing further chemical usage but it also benefits the environment hugely as it allows many farmers, where it suits, to practice minimum till or even no till which eliminates the need for ploughing.

The loss of glyphosate without a similar alternative would have a massive impact on the industry.

I’ll highlight more common-sense topics in the weeks and months ahead in 2020.  

In the meantime, as challenging as it may seem, let’s avoid negative and inaccurate statements fuelling ignorance about our industry and sell the positives about what we are doing.

Author: Martin Kennedy

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Andrew Moir

560 days ago

Well said Martin. I’m looking forward positively to the documentary(s) 😀👍
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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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