Greater Focus on Economy in Nation’s Green Recovery

Call for Scottish Government to ‘start delivering’ on Scotland’s future agricultural policy at online AgriScot

NFU Scotland’s President, Andrew McCornick, has called on Scottish Government to increasingly focus on the economy as the nation emerges from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, tackles the climate emergency, and prepares for life outside the EU.

Mr. McCornick, who steps down as NFU Scotland President in February 2021, said greater attention must be paid to Scotland’s economic recovery and called on the Scottish Government to ‘stop dithering and start delivering’ on future policy for Scotland’s farmers and crofters.

Speaking at an online debate, held as part of AgriScot, Mr. McCornick said: “We are dealing with Brexit, climate change, trade agreements and two agriculture bills.  All that is taking place under a dark cloud created by this insidious Covid pandemic.

“The economy needs to be added to that list of emergencies.  There needs to be a lot of heavy lifting done in a very short time.  

“By driving more on the economy, we can reverse or grow away from the ongoing damage of Covid-19 and deliver stronger, and better outcomes for the climate and our other national treasures like the food and drink sectors and public services. 

“We as farmers and crofters, can and will, deliver for the economy, for the environment, for climate change, for biodiversity and for our communities but we need a much clearer steer on direction than that which the recent £10 million capital grant scheme from Scottish Government’s Agricultural Transformational Fund has offered. We need real tools with real purpose within a future agriculture policy.

“Scottish government has set challenging targets on climate change for 2030 and we have the same ambition of growing the value of our food and drink sector to £30 billion by 2030.  These are admirable but useless until we have greater clarity on policy and a roadmap to deliver it.

“The Cabinet Secretary and Scottish Government must have desks that are buckling under the weight of commissioned reports and stakeholder input promoting policy and a way forward.  With still more reports in the pipeline to come, these many proposals must be stitched into pragmatic measures that put farmers and crofters ahead of IT system requirements to get the delivery on the ground that we need.

“The Scottish government has its own ‘stability and simplicity’ document which is a welcome transition position through to 2024. It creates the opportunity to develop and pilot future schemes that will be more aligned to what Scotland needs. But we must see stronger policy direction on this sooner rather than later.

“And the new Agriculture Act must be used in earnest through to 2024 to continue significantly changing existing policies to enable farmers and crofters to adapt and deliver on the new agenda of food production, climate change and public interest.

“That said, the potential role of Regional Land Use Partnerships in that future needs significantly more scrutiny. Our recent conference highlighted the massive gaps that exist in the concept of RLUPs.  It feels like a whole new tier of bureaucracy is in the making and it is being built on sand.  I urge government not to make the same mistake with RLUPs that was made with the beef efficiency scheme and rush out a programme and develop it on the hoof.  It risks doing rural Scotland a massive disservice.

“Instead, what rural Scotland really needs now is a belief in the future for their industry from Scottish Government.  It must deliver a credible and workable agriculture policy that will strengthen the economy, deal with climate change, biodiversity, and joint ambitions on growing the best food and drink industry in the world by 2030.

“I believe all the information needed to deliver that is piled on Scottish Government desks ready to be stitched together.  The time is right to stop dithering and start delivering and NFU Scotland is fully committed to our part in that process.”  


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 156/20

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