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High Level Delegation in Brussels Protest

Political action needed at EU, UK and Scottish level to tackle sector-wide crisis

A high level delegation from Scotland’s farming union has used a Brussels demonstration to tackle EU, UK and Scottish politicians on the action needed to resolve the current crisis.

Organised by COPA COGECA – the umbrella organisation for EU farming unions and co-operatives – the demonstration was in response to the unprecedented crisis hitting EU farmers across many sectors.

Joining more than 5000 farmers in Brussels were NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie; Vice President Rob Livesey and Livestock committee chairman Charlie Adam.  Mr Bowie also met with UK Secretary of State for Defra Liz Truss and Scottish Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead ahead of an extraordinary meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers.  

Speaking from Brussels, Mr Bowie said:
“This show of strength by farmers from across Europe sends a crystal clear message to politicians across the spectrum that these are unprecedented times with so many key contributors to our agricultural output – cropping, livestock and dairy - struggling in the face of low prices, extreme market volatility and challenging weather.

“First and foremost, Europe’s Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan must show stronger recognition that this is a crisis situation, hitting many commodities that are key to Europe, and that there are a basket of measures at his disposal that can alleviate this current pain.

 “Flexibility that will allow the delivery of support payments would go a long way to easing cash flow worries.  That must be backed up with EU support for investment at farm level; a fairer supply chain; an EU task force to tackle problems in the lamb sector and drive forward longer term measures in the dairy sector to provide resilience to extreme volatility.

“We hope that the Secretary of State Liz Truss has been left in no doubt that this is a cross-commodity crisis and the UK focus must be broadened out.  While her dairy work is welcome, the reality is that all sectors of British farming are hurting right now.

“When she arrives back home, we will be looking to Liz Truss to follow up her recent words and work to deliver a fundamental shift in the way the supply chain currently treats all primary producers.  It is apparent to all that the risk and reward that goes into putting food and drink on the table needs to be more fairly shared across all parts.  The time for rhetoric is over – it is time for action.

“We also need Richard Lochhead to make full use of any flexibilities offered around CAP payment delivery.  The Cabinet Secretary will be judged on his final roll-out of the new CAP system to Scotland.  Payment in the December window is essential to ease cash flow worries on Scottish farms.

“Scottish farmers and crofters are working flat out, putting the highest quality produce into the market place in hugely challenging times and we want the Scottish Government to pursue with vigour any opportunity to smooth the support payment process and guarantee delivery on time.”

Notes to Editors

  • Today (Monday 7 September), NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie, Vice President Rob Livesey and Livestock Committee Chairman Charlie Adam were in Brussels.  Along with other UK faming unions, NFUS met with Secretary of State for Defra Liz Truss.  NFUS also met with Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead. The Union also joined several thousand European farmers in a demonstration outside the European Agriculture Ministers extraordinary council meeting. 
  • Photographs of the NFUS delegation are available from media@nfus.org.uk
  • Along with other UK farming unions, NFU Scotland believes the following measures that should be taken in the short, medium and long term by the UK and devolved administrations in close collaboration with the EU institutions to address the problems facing the farming sector.
    • Easing cash flow difficulties and strengthening safety nets by ensuring delivery of direct support payments under the new CAP arrangements in December; delivery of agri-environment and rural development support in early autumn; significantly simplifying the CAP; exploring options for long term investment in agriculture through the European Investment Bank and commitment to review the intervention levels for dairy products.
    • Injecting long term thinking and fairness into the food supply chain at both UK and EU levels; ensure food sourced from out with the EU doesn’t contravene EU regulations or distort the market place; establish an EU task force to tackle the lamb market and sheep sector and drive forward longer term measures in the dairy sector to provide resilience to extreme volatility.
    • Developing opportunities for UK produce and UK farmers by significantly strengthening country of origin labelling (COOL); increase funding levels available for promoting Scottish or UK produce in new markets both in EU and non-EU countries and strengthen investment in farming, research and innovation to improve productivity, efficiency and competitiveness.

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006
 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 169/15


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