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Political Year Like No Other for NFU Scotland

Lobbying momentum to carry into the New Year

NFU Scotland’s political engagement across three parliaments – Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels - reached unprecedented levels in 2014.

In an agenda dominated by the independence referendum, CAP Reform and potential changes to agricultural holdings legislation, the intensity of lobbying activity undertaken by the Union in the past 12 months fully justified its decision to appoint Clare Slipper as its full time Parliamentary Officer in January 2014.

A widespread programme of member meetings across Scotland on each of these key subjects has ensured NFUS has engaged politicians having had a clear mandate from its membership at grass roots level.

The political momentum will continue into 2015 and beyond.  Once a new officeholder team is appointed in February 2015; one of its first tasks will be to lay out key manifesto priorities ahead of the General Election in May 2015.

Next year will see the Union looking to shape bills already passing through parliament – including community empowerment and air weapons licencing.  However, the workload in terms of forthcoming legislation is challenging with the Scotland Bill, Land Reform Bill, Agricultural Holdings legislation and a Succession bill all scheduled for parliamentary air time.

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said:

“On a political front, 2014 was a year like no other and the level of engagement on issues like CAP, the independence referendum and agricultural tenancy legislation was unprecedented.

“But there is no scope for us to take our foot off the pedal.  More than 1700 Union members attended referendum debates organised by NFUS across Scotland and within weeks of the vote, we were back on the road asking our members what they would want from additional devolved powers so that we could feed them in to the Smith Commission.

“The referendum events and Smith Commission consultation have established momentum and fresh political engagement between the Union and politicians.  

“Building on the recommendations of the Smith Commission, there is an immediate need to break through the barriers that discredit UK policy development and representation in Europe.

“There is no excuse for clinging on to a dysfunctional system.  A transparent cabinet decision-making process must be at the centre of future UK politics.  The chairmanship of the ministerial body may lie with Defra ministers on many issues.  However, devolved ministers must also be given a role where interest and expertise dictates their primacy.

“There is an immediate opportunity to pilot the new structure as Westminster and the devolved nations struggle to get to grips with the EU-wide problems in the milk sector.

“Looking forward to the General Election, a headline point for any manifesto for May will be the need for all the parties to commit to the UK budget convergence review in 2016.  There has been political acceptance that the basis for distributing CAP funds across devolved areas of the UK needs to be examined but the timetable needs to be nailed down.

“That will be an area we will be looking for Defra Farming Minister George Eustice to address when he attends our AGM in St Andrews in February 2015.”

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006 or Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 193/14


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