Farmers and crofters must rally together to tell their story and promote the agriculture industry as the country emerges from the Covid-19 crisis.
That was the plea from NFU Scotland (NFUS) president, Andrew McCornick, in his final New Year’s message as chief of the union.
“As I look towards 2021, it is not about the cards we have been dealt on Brexit, trade deals, policy or weather,” said Mr McCornick, who will retire from the role in February and be replaced by Aberfeldy farmer Martin Kennedy.
“It is how we play our hand and I firmly believe that, as an industry, the cards are stacked in our favour.”
He said Scottish farmers and crofters were well placed to meet the twin demands of feeding a growing global population and the need to meet targets on climate change, the environment and biodiversity.
“To move forward urgently, let us identify all the means and mechanisms we can put in place,” added Mr McCornick.
“Let us have credibility for farmers by investing in bioeconomy, bioenergy, agro-forestry, precision farming, and shorter food chains – support for which is within the Government’s gift.”
He said NFUS had been working hard to promote the farming industry as one that can change to meet public goods for public money requirements.
“This outlook will empower our farmers and crofters and drive us forward to the holy grail of sustainable profit with all the environmental, welfare and standards the public expect as the return for their investment and support for the industry,” added Mr McCornick.
He called on the Scottish Government to deliver an “ambitious, coherent policy” for the sector that addresses climate changing, biodiversity and an increasing demand for nutritious high quality food, and said “procrastination has a price”.
“Brexit will go by, like foot and mouth, the oil crisis and the great depression,” added Mr McCornick.
“We need to throw open our doors to the public and build trust on what we do and how we do it. There is huge potential from selling our story both on farm and in the food chain.”