Call for Governments and Retailers to Reset Priorities on Food Security at Agriscot

All businesses attending packed winter event reliant on thriving, profitable farms and crofts

NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy used a packed seminar at Scotland’s leading winter agricultural event to call on Governments and retailers to reset their priorities on food security.

At AgriScot, an annual event which returned to Ingliston near Edinburgh for the first time in three years, Mr Kennedy used the platform to remind those who hold power over the food supply chain that the thousands of farmers and crofters in attendance, the 240 stand holders, their staff and the numerous sponsors there all depend on a thriving, profitable primary sector.  He said a critical mass of producers and produce is essential to maintain the viability of businesses both upstream and downstream of agricultural activity and central to the future wellbeing of both the rural economy and rural communities in Scotland.

Mr Kennedy said: “It is now time to reset the way we prioritise what is important in life. The world has changed and the focus on food security has never been as high since the Second World War.

“With the war in Ukraine, the debate on food security at CoP27 in Egypt has intensified since Glasgow hosted CoP26 and food security has been top of the agenda for the G20 in Bali.  Yesterday, the world population hit eight billion people, a rise of one billion in only 11 years, yet we still have those in positions of power and influence who cannot grasp the seriousness of the current situation.

“With persistent post-Brexit problems around labour availability and the export of goods; combined with crippling costs on energy, feed and fertiliser, many businesses have already decided to contract. If this continues, the implications on not only the economy but also on food security will be stark.

“We need to do more when it comes to climate change and biodiversity, and we will play our part. But, if we do not keep food production front and centre of future agricultural policy in Scotland policy, we will undermine our ability to produce the most important energy source of all. Policy failure by the Scottish Government will only lead to more imported food that will do nothing for climate change and the environment and will undermine our own jobs, businesses, and rural economy.

“Hundreds of Scottish farmers and crofters gathered outside the Scottish Parliament two weeks ago at the #FoodNeedsAFarmer rally to drive that point home.

“NFU Scotland remains committed to working with the Scottish Government in developing a future policy that is fit for Scotland. The best way for an industry to go in a new direction is to let it lead.  Scottish Government has stated that it is taking on board many of the policy recommendations of its farmer led groups from two years ago. My frustration is that the Scottish Government did not listen to the industry four years ago when we first brought forward proposals to address both climate change and the environment whilst keeping active agriculture at the forefront. We could have started the journey to a new policy some time ago as these proposals are every bit as relevant now as they were then.

“Creating the right policy framework and investing in agriculture will deliver on so many fronts. Budgets and finances are tight but if we want to maintain our ability to feed ourselves and continue to take care of our environment then we must continue to invest wisely in active farming and crofting.

“Future policy decisions in Scotland will send a clear message to the industry about the Scottish Government’s commitment to the rural economy.

“Whatever happens in the future as a result of world politics or climate events, there will always be the need for food production and that is best carried out by those who have generations of experience, not those who have a short time in decision-making posts then move on when the going gets tough, leaving farmers and crofters as the only long term constant to once again pick up the pieces.”  


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 102/22

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About The Author

Bob Carruth

A dairy farmer’s son, I joined NFU Scotland in 1999 after 13 years as an agricultural journalist. Following spells as a regional manager and policy lead on milk, livestock and animal health and welfare, I became Communications Director in 2008.

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