Farmers union NFU Scotland says it is committed to striking the right Brexit deal for Scottish farmers and crofters.
Speaking at the union’s autumn conference in Birnam, Perthshire, yesterday, president Andrew McCornick said the only certainty about Brexit was that change was coming for the sector.
He said while there was frustration over the lack of political progress on Brexit negotiations, the union had resolutely pursued its three priorities of securing friction-free trade, accessed to skilled and competent labour, and a future support package for Scotland that was adequately funded and fairly allocated.
“Withdrawal from the EU means withdrawal from the Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) and for our members that means change,” said Mr McCornick.
“Post-Brexit and post-Cap, Scottish agriculture has an opportunity to move away from area-based schemes that have incentivised inertia.
“That will need the devolved delivery of schemes and measures that are fit for Scotland’s needs underpinned by a recast support package that is adequately funded, ring-fenced and properly targeted.”
He said “friction-free trade” was needed to ensure protection for Scottish produce.
“For us, a Single Market and Customs Union, at least through transition, is a ‘must’. At the same time, future trade deals must not suck in cheaper food produced to poorer standards,” added Mr McCornick.
“Trade and labour issues are just as critical to the future well-being of both primary production and food and drink manufacturing.
“With a target turnover of £30billion by 2030, food and drink will continue to generate greater returns for Scotland than areas like oil and gas but that needs access to skilled and competent labour – both seasonal and permanent – to make it work.
“The onus is on politicians to make this happen and that needs political posturing and grandstanding to end.”
He said the union would continue to engage with members over Brexit, both at a series of Brexit roadshow events next month and also at a debate and discussion at the AgriScot event in Ingliston, Edinburgh, on November 15.
The Brexit roadshow event dates for the north and north-east are: November 6 at the Broadford Hotel, Isle of Skye at 7.30pm; November 7 at Dingwall Mart, Dingwall, at 7.30pm; November 8 at the Thainstone Centre, Inverurie, at 7.30pm; November 13 at the Ayre Hotel, Kirkwall, Orkney, at 7.30pm; November 14 at the Shetland Hotel, Lerwick, at 7.30pm; November 24 at the Tarbert Bowling Club at 12.30pm and Cuan Mor, Oban, at 7.30pm.