Farmers rally outside Holyrood urging better food security policy

Around 400 farmers and crofters demonstrated outside Holyrood as part of the #FoodNeedsAFarmer protest (Photo: NFU Scotland)
Around 400 farmers and crofters demonstrated outside Holyrood as part of the #FoodNeedsAFarmer protest (Photo: NFU Scotland)

Hundreds of farmers and crofters gathered outside the Scottish parliament to demand the government to put more emphasis on food production in future policy.

Around 400 farmers and crofters demonstrated outside Holyrood as part of the #FoodNeedsAFarmer protest organised by NFU Scotland.

They demanded that crofting and food production must be the central pillar of the government's new agricultural policy for Scotland.

More than 40 MSPs left the parliament building to meet with the farmers, with high-profile politicians including the Scottish Conservative and Scottish Labour leaders.

The rally, which took place on Wednesday (2 November), was staged to coincide with Scottish government's consultation on a future agricultural policy for the nation.

The proposed new Agriculture Bill is seen as a critical step on the road to a new Scottish agricultural policy, which will fundamentally change support for farming and crofting.

Speaking after, NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy said farmers had delivered a 'clear message' that any new policy created by the new bill must put food production 'front and centre'.

He added that food security was "now a global issue", and that farmers had a "moral obligation to produce it".

“At a UK level, we have taken our eye off the ball on energy and look at the mess we have got ourselves into," Mr Kennedy said.

"We cannot repeat that same mistake with food or the cost of living crisis we are all currently enduring will simply get worse.

“The ‘win, win, win’ for the Scottish government is that investing in this nation’s food production will deliver the wider environmental goals we all want to provide."

At the same time as the rally in Holyrood was taking place, NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy Jonnie Hall was at Westminster meeting Scottish MPs who took part in Back British Farming Day.

Both events came during a crucial time for British agriculture, as farmers continue to face major challenges such as rampant inflation and a lack of available workforce.

Industry concerns in particular focus on the issue of UK food security and food production, especially following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

NFU President Minette Batters said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s immediate priority should be to establish economic stability for the whole country.

“British food and farming is currently worth more than £120 billion to the nation’s economy, and we are an industry that wants to drive growth both in home markets and overseas.

"I firmly believe that with the right policies in place we can work with government to provide solutions to many of the issues we’re facing, from the cost-of-living crisis, energy and food security, to tackling climate change."

She added: “We are ambitious to deliver for the nation on all fronts, but that ambition must be matched by government and backed up by policy.

"For the country, and its farmers, honesty and certainty about the future will be absolutely vital."