NFU Scotland calls for meeting with Liam Fox over future trade deals

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick

Farmers union NFU Scotland (NFUS) has called for a meeting with Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox.

In a letter to the Westminster politician, NFUS president Andrew McCornick has asked for equivalence in standards and no “trade shocks” once the UK leaves Europe.

“Following on from the UK Government’s talks with Australian and New Zealand officials, I have extended an invitation to Mr Fox to meet with me to discuss the UK Government’s position towards future trading partners,” said Mr McCornick.

“We need to make sure that we are seeking the best possible deal for farmers when negotiating trade agreements with foreign nations.”

He said farmers and crofters were the “bedrock” of the Scottish food and drink sector, which was the biggest income generator to the economy.

“It is vital that discussions on future trade deals do not take this for granted,” added Mr McCornick.

“I can say in no uncertain terms that the economic prosperity of the islands, villages and towns across Scotland and the UK are linked to profitable food production.”

Mr McCornick said NFU Scotland was seeking international trade deals that did not undercut Scotland’s extremely high standards of production, which enables farmers to maximise the provenance of Scottish products – a unique selling point in foreign markets.

“Whatever future trade deal is found for farming, food and drink, it must be bespoke to the Scottish and UK situation,” added Mr McCornick.

“I hope to discuss with Mr Fox the strong need to push for a deal which prioritises food production and directly benefits farmers and those in rural communities.”

Meanwhile, Gordon MP Colin Clark has secured a meeting for NFU Scotland officials with Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove next week.

It follows concerns from the union over the future of farm payments after Brexit.

During questions in the House of Commons, Mr Clark asked Mr Gove: “On leaving the EU, the UK will be able to set its own farm policy. What assessment has the Secretary of State made that if the EU continues with farm support, the UK will continue do so, otherwise it could severely disadvantage British farming?”

In response, Mr Gove said Government needed to keep pace with what was happening in other markets “in order to ensure that we support farmers to continue to do the work that they do”.

On his upcoming meeting with NFU Scotland on Thursday, he said: “I look forward to discussing with them how to ensure that they and their colleagues get the support they deserve in the future.”