Secretary of State Brexit Speech Signals Change

NFU Scotland’s vision that puts Scottish agriculture at the heart of Brexit negotiations is continuing to build momentum following the Secretary of State Michael Gove’s speech today (21 July 2017).

Mr Gove’s speech, which included recognition of the need for new support arrangements post-Brexit, a requirement to better target support at activity and the challenges faced by those farming and crofting in hills and uplands are all themes picked up in NFU Scotland’s discussion document ‘Change – A New Agricultural Policy for Scotland Post-Brexit’ launched at the Highland Show in June. 

The Union’s vision for the next decade is a managed transition from 2017 to 2027 to an action-based support system.  It wants to capitalise on new market opportunities, coupled with a new domestic agricultural policy, that will move our farmers and crofters to a position where market returns are the primary driver of profitability.  

The discussion document maps out a delivery model to unlock that potential through a fairer supply chain, new policy and support arrangements and a positive culture to develop those who live and work in the Scottish countryside. 

Speaking after the Secretary of State’s speech, NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy Jonnie Hall said: “While the headlines will be on ‘Green Brexit’, there was a significant amount of agricultural content in the Secretary of State’s speech. 
“The clear statement regarding a move away from the current area-based support system fully justifies our approach to have an open and frank discussion with our membership now and every member of NFUS has received a copy of our Change document in the past few days.

“The Secretary of State’s statement that support ‘must be earned’ chimes with our thoughts.  We would want to see a properly-funded policy, supported by science-led decision-making, that builds on our animal health and welfare record and is focused on productivity and profitability gains.  

“That means, in the future, there is a justifiable case for Scottish agriculture to receive the same levels of funding as it currently receives, ring-fenced and spent in new and more effective ways to improve productivity, efficiency and resilience. That is a central plank of the discussions we will be having with politicians and their officials in the weeks and months ahead.

“While accepting of change, we will also be considering the case for a transitional shift from land to activity-based incentives. We would want to reward risk and recognise good stewardship, not inertia.

“It is in Scotland’s interests that a managed move to smarter agricultural support delivers profitable farming and crofting and a rich seam of public benefits, not least of which is the continued production of Scottish food and drink in the future.

“However, Mr Gove also recognised in his speech the importance of support to those living and working in our hills and uplands.  That is an issue we were able to raise with the Minister when we met at the Highland Show and we have extended an invite to the Minister and his team to visit Scotland soon and view the unique and diverse agricultural systems found North of the Border.”  

Notes to Editors
• At the Royal Highland Show, NFU Scotland launched its discussion document ‘CHANGE – A New Agricultural Policy for Scotland Post-Brexit’.  Since then, NFU Scotland’s Presidential team have embarked on a programme that will see them visit more than 30 agricultural shows this summer to discuss the document with members, stakeholders, politicians and the media.

• The diary of future events that our officeholders will attend are as follows:
- Andrew McCornick, President – Biggar Show (22 July); Border Union Show (29 July); Turriff Show (30 July); Kintyre Show (4 August). 
- Martin Kennedy, Vice President – Sutherland Show (22 July); Wigtown Show (2 August); Perth Show (5 August); Aberfeldy Show (11 and 12 August).
- Gary Mitchell, Vice President – Turriff Show (31 July); Black Isle Show (3 August); Dumfries Show (5 August); Cunningsburgh Show, Shetland (9 August); Dounby Show, Orkney (10 August); Orkney County Show (12 August).

• NFU Scotland will also use its Change document as a basis for discussions at monthly meetings with politicians at Westminster and Holyrood; its planned attendance at the Conservative Party Conference in the autumn; the Union’s Autumn conference and AgriScot 2017 in November.

• A copy of NFU Scotland’s discussion document ‘Change – A New Agricultural Policy for Scotland Post-Brexit’ is available:

• Today’s speech by Secretary of State Michael Gove is available at:

For more information contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006 

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 99/17

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