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Vice President's Blog 8 February 2013

John Picken

I retire from office of Vice President on Tuesday and I have had a very fulfilling two years. Life goes on and for my sins I have earned the dream job (challenge) of being the Chair of the Scottish Voluntary Initiative (VI) Group.  

I find myself writing this blog on the eve of my departure for the red eye shuttle to London for a very important national meeting of the VI.  This is the body that successfully beat off the pesticide tax.  David Houghton represented NFUS then.  

It is very important to remember that the VI is about pesticide self-regulation and monitoring and has shown that the farming industry can achieve legislative requirements by voluntary means without the sledgehammer of over burdensome regulatory (nonsense) non-science or the high costs.  How did we achieve that?  By sticking to science and talking around the table with all involved stakeholders.
Governments remain key stakeholders in any process but there remains a perception that when you need information it is very difficult to get convincing answers from our elected representatives from any Parliament.  My 95-year-old father calls it propaganda.  We farmers understand it to be called convenient truths.  NFUS would call it pulling together facts from all sides.  

That is what we want to happen at our AGM and conference this week at St Andrews.  We want to give our members the opportunity to ask all sorts of questions about the future of Scottish farming.  What place has it got in the Union, in Europe and in the world?  So we have lined up the best: not in any order Alex Salmond, Brian Pack, Michael Moore, Owen Paterson, Richard Lochhead, Nigel Miller, Alyn Smith, Jim McLaren, James Withers and George Lyon too.

There will be many sponsors from the whole spectrum of the farming industry so make sure you are not left out in the dark. Come and be heard.  Jonnie Hall our Policy director has just finished an updated policy summary of everything your union is involved in on your behalf.  You will receive it in your welcome pack when you attend NFUS AGM Centenary Conference 2013.
I may retire from office of Vice President on Tuesday but I go on to produce cattle, sheep, wheat, Oats, energy and help tourists have a great experience at St Andrews Coach Houses on my farm.  

I have been involved in every commodity committee that we have - not always on time but with great enthusiasm and optimism.   I wish the new team of Nigel, Allan and Rob well in their pursuit of ever-needed solutions.  I thank all and every one of you that I know and have met over the last 10 years of NFUS I will always make myself available for the organisation of NFUS and that we continue to influence our members, peers, politicians and customers and know we will deliver a better future for the Scottish Countryside.


John Picken by James on 20 February 2013 17:18

Congratulations on your new post. VI in Scotland, you are well versed to lead the group. Best wishes.

john picken by Andrew on 13 February 2013 11:23

Many thanks John, your passion and dedication to all things farming will missed but glad that you "will be available"


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