Ministerial Meetings Present Positive Political Agenda

NFU Scotland emerged from its first official meetings with UK Government ministers yesterday (Tuesday, 15 June) confident that the relationship between the Scottish agricultural industry and Westminster was entering a new and positive period.

NFU Scotland’s President Jim McLaren, and Chief Executive James Withers, met with the Scottish Secretary of State Michael Moore and the farming Minister Jim Paice in London.   Although both are newly appointed Ministers, NFUS has had regular contact with them in recent years when the MPs sat on the opposition benches in Westminster.

Speaking after the meetings, Jim McLaren said:

“There was a real sense at these meetings that after a sometimes strained relationship between the Scottish farming industry and the UK Government in recent years, we are moving to a new, better and more constructive footing.  The recent parliamentary elections have offered the opportunity to build a fresh and reinvigorated relationship and it is helpful that both Michael Moore and Jim Paice have a ready grasp of the many issues facing Scottish and UK agriculture.

“Our discussions with the Secretary of State for Scotland focussed on reserved matters that have a huge bearing on how Scottish farming and our countryside function.  We believe that there are areas around taxation and fuel duty that can be addressed to help sustain and regenerate rural areas. 

“We also discussed the long running saga around the animal health and welfare budget.  While policy on animal health and welfare sits largely with the Scottish Parliament, Defra holds the purse strings.  We need to secure the transfer of a fair share of Defra’s animal health and welfare budget to Scotland to allow us to have control of both the funding and the policy and take our livestock sector forward in the way Scotland would like.

“It is clear that Jim Paice’s farming background allows him to come at key agricultural issues from a position of knowledge and strength.  That will be particularly important as we approach the crucial debates on forthcoming CAP reform with the need to ensure that Defra also recognises Scottish views when it gets around the European negotiating table.

“After years of NFUS lobbying, the creation of an Ombudsman to police the retail sector is to become a reality.  These meetings gave us the chance to discuss with these leading politicians the need to grasp this opportunity, create a meaningful ombudsman with genuine powers including the ability to act proactively and with remedies at its disposal. That would drive long-lasting fairness and transparency into supply chain arrangements in this country.

“While our discussions in Westminster yesterday were open and positive, the clear budgetary pressures on all spending were obvious.   Ahead of the Emergency Budget on June 22, we have written to the Chancellor George Osborne regarding a number of taxation, fuel duty and business measures that we believe will help stimulate rural and farming businesses.  Our next visit to Westminster will be to meet Treasury Minister Danny Alexander in early July when the ramifications of the emergency budget will be fresh in our minds.”

Notes to editors

  • NFU Scotland President Jim McLaren and Chief Executive James Withers were in London yesterday (Tuesday, June 15) for meetings with Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore and Agriculture Minister Jim Paice.
  • The NFUS representatives also attended an event to mark the 10th anniversary of the Red Tractor food assurance scheme with Red Tractor Week.  Running from 14–20 June, Red Tractor Week will celebrate 10 years of food and farming under the Red Tractor logo.  See for more details.
  • The work and activities of NFU Scotland can now be followed daily on its new Facebook page at!/pages/NFU-Scotland/129023127119672


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006





Date Published:

News Article No.: 93/10

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