Panel with Michael Gove MP and Edward Mountain MSP
NFU Scotland has rounded off its attendance at all the spring political party conferences by hosting a high-profile fringe event at the Scottish Conservative Conference in Aberdeen today (Friday 3 May) with Secretary of State Michael Gove MP and Convenor of the Rural Economy Committee Edward Mountain MSP.
The event, chaired by NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick, focused on a new agricultural policy for Scotland and how Scottish farmers and crofters can be supported post-Brexit to produce food with better productivity and environmental outcomes.
Presenting to the packed audience of well over 40 delegates, NFU Scotland Director of Policy Jonnie Hall outlined the Union’s Steps to Change approach and made a strong case for long-term financial support from HM Treasury to support positive actions.
This follows the Union presenting a robust evidence paper to the long-awaited review of intra-UK agricultural funding which is currently underway under the chairmanship of Lord Bew.
Speaking on the panel, Jonnie Hall said: “Right now there is this twin challenge of meeting food production targets but also meeting environmental targets as well. I view that as being non-binary.
“It’s not one or the other. We have to do these things collectively and we can if we take the opportunity to recast how we support farmers and crofters in what they do. It’s fundamental that we move away from some of the severe flaws in where we are under the Common Agricultural Policy.
“Area based payments do not recognise actions required on the ground or the actions farmers and crofters are already taking to deliver on society’s needs for high quality food, produced to a high standard, but also society’s need on climate change issues, water quality issues, biodiversity issues, rural communities, connectivity and all the rest of it.
“We’re starting with a significant challenge within the CAP itself but the industry is constantly being bombarded with new challenges and some of those are very political. The whole Brexit process is a very political process which has thrown up plenty of questions, conundrums and uncertainty. That’s not helping our industry and certainly not helping our members of NFU Scotland.
“The challenge for us as an organisation representing farmers and the challenge for UK and Scottish governments is to work more closely together to provide support, to provide incentive, to provide leadership, so that the right actions are taken in the right way to deliver the outcomes that we all want.”
Notes to Editor
Photographs from the fringe event are available by request from firstname.lastname@example.org
You can watch the whole debate and discussion, filmed as live, at: