NFU Scotland calls for 'roadmap' amid 'transformational decade'

The 2020s will be a 'transformational decade' for Scotland’s farmers and crofters
The 2020s will be a 'transformational decade' for Scotland’s farmers and crofters

Scottish government must deliver a policy roadmap to help secure a profitable and sustainable farming industry amid a 'transformational decade', NFU Scotland's President has said.

Addressing the union’s virtual AGM on Thursday, Andrew McCornick said Scottish farming and crofting stood on the edge of the most significant change in generations.

Brexit, the impact of Covid-19, the challenge of climate change and significant changes in agricultural policy from 2025 would be the drivers of change.

But the outgoing NFU Scotland President said while the 'ambition is great, the how is sorely missing and time is short'.

“We could bemoan the fact we have left Europe, or we can look for the opportunities for the global country we have now become," he said.

"Stepping away from half a century under the CAP allows us to move to a smarter way of delivering for our industry, supporting the environment, climate change and delivering our high standards of food production.

“Stepping away from having to meet the bureaucratic requirements of a CAP formulated as a compromise from the Artic Circle to the Mediterranean to a future policy that delivers on actively farmed and managed land in Scotland for Scotland.

“NFU Scotland has been crystal clear: our industry is one that can change, and will change, to meet public aspirations with an upbeat forward-looking mindset."

He said the outlook would empower farmers toward the 'holy grail' of sustainable profit, done in parallel with tackling climate change and delivering affordable healthy food.

"We can deliver on so many fronts provided policy, support and opportunities are formulated coherently and speedily, especially when you consider that the stretching 2030 targets for our food and drink industry and emission reduction are already set in stone," he added.

He called on the Scottish government to issue a policy roadmap now, so producers could build a path to deliver profitable and sustainable crofting and farming while meeting all the targets.

And while continuing to trade with the EU on a tariff and quota free basis was important, but Mr McCornick said the UK internal market was the most critical and important market for Scottish producers.

At the event, Mr McCornick joined the presidents of the three other UK farming unions on a virtual panel to debate future trade and agricultural policies across devolved nations.

He said that any divergence in standards within the UK could cause upheaval, and that it was crucial that they operated within each devolved region on an agreed baseline.

“If standards are formulated intelligently, they could help to safeguard the high-quality reputation and integrity of Scottish agri-foods.”

NFU Scotland's three day AGM continues on Friday (12 February), with an address from Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing.