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Union Meets Secretary of State as New Chapter of Dialogue Opens

An NFU Scotland delegation took encouragement from the UK Government's willingness to engage with Scotland on ongoing Common Agricultural Policy discussions following a meeting in Westminster today (Wednesday 30 march).  The group also left the meeting having had a positive discussion around the establishment of the supermarket adjudicator

The NFUS delegation, involving President Nigel Miller and Chief Executive James Withers, took part in the meeting, which was arranged by the Scottish Office.  They met Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman and also brought the Scottish Secretary of State Michael Moore and Under-secretary David Mundell around the same table as the farming leaders. 

The two key issues around CAP Reform raised by NFUS were establishing a clear process for Scottish views to feed in to the UK position and recognising that the industry in Scotland requires a specific and distinct approach. The Union's trip to Westminster came out of its ambition to engage fully at all levels as the CAP negotiations continue and to emphasise the particular priorities of Scottish agriculture

Speaking after the meeting, NFUS President Nigel Miller said:

"Today's meeting with Caroline Spelman and Michael Moore was something of a milestone which signals the start of more frequent and open dialogue with the UK Government -something we've not really had since devolution.  This is so important as we enter a critical negotiating phase on CAP Reform.

"We are grateful to the Scotland Office for helping to pave the way for closer contact with the Defra Secretary of State and believe today's discussions have built effectively on the strong contact we already have with UK Agriculture Minister Jim Paice.

"We outlined to Ms Spelman Scotland's distinct agriculture sector, marked by 85 percent of our land being designated as Less Favoured – a significantly greater proportion of disadvantaged land than found south of the Border and therefore requiring distinct policy solutions. 

"Ms Spelman clearly recognised Scotland's position and agreed that it was critical that the process of establishing the UK position was informed by the views in Scotland.

"There was also very positive discussion around the establishment of a supermarket adjudicator with confirmation that the draft Bill will emerge early in the next parliamentary session, after the Easter recess.  

"Before we finished, we also touched on the ongoing EU discussion around the dairy sector.   We were all agreed on the need for strengthening producers' position and we share an aspiration for great producer co-operation.  Making the market work better and in a sustainable manner for dairy farmers is absolutely critical.

"We were fortunate to have the opportunity to spend an hour round the table with these key players for Scotland but we don't see today's meeting as a one off at all, but rather the beginning of regular dialogue at UK level.  We invited Caroline Spelman to come north of the Border and she's keen to do so.  We look forward to a visit from her later this year.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • A photo of NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller and Chief Executive James Withers meeting with Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore and Under-Scottish Secretary David Mundell is available on request.

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 60/11


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