Vice President's Blog - 9 May 2018

Never before has there been such political engagement from NFU Scotland with politicians north and south of the border as there is at the present time writes Vice President Martin Kennedy.

Why?  Because as a union representing all our members and covering all sectors, we are fully aware that the uncertainty of Brexit negotiations is giving great cause for concern.

After almost 45 years of agricultural reliance on the EU, especially when it comes to protecting our markets and providing budget certainty, we now find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. When it comes to trade negotiations, we are very much the new kids on the block.  This is the part where, unless there is skilled and savvy negotiations, other countries will take advantage.

There are some very clever individuals involved when it comes to the political process, but all too often decisions are made on how many votes this will secure, rather than what would be the best thing to do for the economy or the environment.
Meeting those that make decisions gives us the opportunity to highlight the opportunities which can be seized which would benefit our industry, the economy and the environment.  More importantly, gives us the chance to highlight the impact that unintended consequences could have on food and farming.

Trade deals and budget allocation will have a massive impact on the future of farming and crofting in Scotland and it’s imperative that we are in the room so that decisions are well informed.

Scotland has a world-leading reputation for animal welfare and crop production standards and to be sold out to trade deals that allow products of lower standards to undermine our markets - in effect exporting our standards - would be a disaster for productive farming and crofting.

What we have here is something we are proud of and is our selling point when it comes to export.

Budgets will also be crucial if we are to allow our food and drink sector, currently the biggest manufacturing sector in the Scottish economy, to grow and generate further income to help satisfy other budgetary requirements.

There needs to be some form of commonality throughout the UK to allow intra UK trade to continue and also to establish common goals when it comes to export. At the same time there also needs to be a bespoke policy system in place that suits Scotland's requirements to ensure people, communities and the environment have a prosperous future.

NFU Scotland remain on the front foot. First and foremost, we lobby for our membership to deliver what is best for our industry, which in turn will deliver for the economy and the environment.   If our political engagement has been strong, then our membership engagement in the past 18 months has been exceptional, making sure we take out members with us every step of the way down a very uncertain path.

I would appeal to all those who are not members to recognise the tireless effort put in by the whole team and consider supporting us to ensure our voice and your voice is heard and listened to by those who will ultimately make the decisions that will carve our future.

Author: Martin Kennedy

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About The Author

Martin Kennedy

Martin is married with three daughters and farms with his wife Jane in Highland Perthshire on a hill farm rising to 2,500ft. They have 600 breeding ewes, 30 continental cows and 30 Highlanders. Martin served two years as Highland Perthshire branch President, he first represented East Central region on the LFA committee in 2009 before being elected as Vice Chairman for three years. He is currently serving his second year as Chairman. He is a past chairman of Aberfeldy Show and Highland Games, a post he held for six years.

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