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NFUS President Focusses on Food and Drink Industry as he Celebrates 100 Days in Office

NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie has underlined the importance of the country’s food and drink industry as he reached 100 days in office.

The importance of food production and getting profitability and investment into the industry was the key message delivered by Mr Bowie when he addressed the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Rural Policy in Edinburgh on Wednesday evening (20 May).

Leading a discussion on ‘What should rural Scotland look like in 2035?’ Mr Bowie spoke of a six-point action plan consisting of:

  • Boosting the circular rural economy and connecting rural Scotland to the world
  • Promoting Scotland’s larder at home and abroad
  • Gaining added value investment in food and drink processing infrastructure
  • Openness to innovation and new farming techniques
  • Striking the balance between demands on the land and political decision-making
  • Achieving a strong voice in key negotiations.

Mr Bowie was elected into his post on 10 February at NFU Scotland’s AGM, and has continued to deal with a host of issues, including land reform, Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, milk pricing, and individual member’s issues, amongst many others in the first 100 days.

He commented: “The honeymoon period has been very full on – both enjoyable and challenging at times. I am encouraged by the huge support I’ve had from the Vice Presidents, the Board of Directors and the NFU Scotland staff. And when people thank me for work the Union is doing, I really appreciate it.

 “For me, there has quickly been a realisation of the huge role we, as an organisation play in the Scottish agricultural industry. From a members’ point of view there hopefully hasn’t been any discernible change when I took over this role. The issues within the industry are still the same.  I have had to hit the ground running, and with the help of the whole team, we have kept going forward.

“Going forward, profitable agriculture has to be top of the agenda.  Whether we are discussing agricultural holdings, land reform, supply chain, or milk pricing, there needs to be strong consideration of the contribution Scottish food and Scottish farming makes.

“For this industry to keep growing we need strong investment into Scotland and profitability for the food and drink sector.  Although we are currently in the Year of Food and Drink, I feel every year should prioritise our great produce. We need consumers to know where their food comes from and the story behind it.

“We have got to further work with the retail chain and we must work harder to engage directly with consumers about what we do, and the great story our farmers have to tell.

“The next generation is key to the future of food and agriculture, whether we are referring to consumers or those who will produce the food. It has been humbling to see the work being done by some organisations to engage children with farming and food at a young age.

“I attended a countryside day this week organised by the Borders Union Society which gave 1,300 children a taste of farming and where their food comes from. They are the ones that will be consuming our food for years to come, and hopefully some will enter the industry. They will have an influence and impact on what we produce and how we produce it in the future.

“For me, on the farming side, the next generation and the previous generation have been crucial to me giving the job 100 percent effort.  My son and my father are working very well together and that’s giving me the reassurance to concentrate fully on the Union and the job in hand. Out of the last 100 days I’ve spent around three days working on the farm, but it is reassuring that the work is getting done without me.

“That has allowed time and effort to be directed towards the biggest issue at farm level, the implementation of the CAP reform and the delivery systems.

“Concern for bureaucracy and simplicity has seen considerable engagement with Europe, as well as the Scottish Government. We have different issues in Scotland from other countries but we also have support in Europe from other farming unions who understand that flexibility is needed to address different issues within a country. Our job now is to make Commissioner Hogan understand that and we will have a further chance to discuss this with him at the Royal Highland Show.

“We need equivalence measures that work for our diverse farming landscape and to ensure EU regulations, especially greening, are not gold plated because as an industry we are ahead of other countries.”  

Ends

Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 93/15


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