NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick writes about the farming industry’s response to the coronavirus pandemic
Scotland’s farmers and crofters will strive to ensure Scottish plates and glasses remain full of fresh, tasty food and drink throughout this crisis.
We thank the Scottish public for their continued support.
These are unprecedented times and the sight of empty shelves in some major retail stores clearly illustrates the uncertainty and worry many in our society are facing. We want to fill those shelves.
Farmers and crofters – and the wider food and drink sector across Scotland – are determined to play their part on food security and will work tirelessly to maintain all necessary supply chains to keep shelves stocked.
Discussions with the Scottish Government and other key stakeholders are already drilling down on key areas.
These include the ability to get crucial supplies like animal feed, fuel, fertiliser and seed on to farms; the need for livestock, milk, eggs, cereals and veg to get to market; keeping markets, abattoirs and food manufacturing sites open and working; and getting those goods delivered on to a shelf, whether it be a farm shop, a local store or a supermarket.
Local businesses, both on farm and in the villages and towns, will undoubtedly value your support.
Huge problems around labour are looming large, particularly for our soft fruit and vegetable growers with novel ways of seeking staff for farms being considered.
Those who have lost their jobs or are on unpaid leave in the hospitality sector are being sought to allow planting and harvesting to be completed. Details can be found here.
In times of crisis, Scottish farmers and crofters have always proved themselves to be innovative, adaptable and resilient. This time is no different.
However, the way we will play our part in keeping food and drink flowing has changed in this current crisis, and we have the systems in place.
We have already taken the responsible decision that NFU Scotland (NFUS) head office staff will work from home and any meetings or gatherings are suspended so all the work will be getting done in a different way.
Modern technology now gives all of our professional staff the ability to work from home with the wonders of teleconferencing, video-conferencing, email, social media, mobile phones, laptops and more meaning daily contact with government, key industry stakeholders, internal contacts and members is seamless.
With difficult decisions being made on an hourly basis, technology provides us with the platforms to remain fully informed and engaged on all the key issues currently being discussed with urgency and at the highest level.
The technology exists to make this work, and the desire is there from everyone at NFUS to be pushing on and ensuring the best support and representation of the industry at all levels on all issues continues unabated.