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Farmers, Crofters Need to be Given Tools to Succeed, Says NFUS President

07 February 2020

SCOTLAND, UK - Speaking at NFU Scotland’s Conference, President Andrew McCornick has called on legislators and policy makers to deliver for Scottish agriculture as Brexit enters its final stage

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick spoke to a packed-out crowd as he opened the Union’s two-day Conference, AGM and Annual Dinner event at the Radisson Blu in Glasgow.

Mr McCornick highlighted the areas which will most affect the industry in the coming months and years, including future trade agreements, future support, the supply chain and climate change.

The UK is entering into an 11-month transition period where we are negotiating our future trading relationship with the EU and the rest of the world. This is a critical time for everyone, none more so than Scotland’s farmers and crofters.

Mr McCornick said: "We are entering into this melee as a nation of just over 60m rather being part of a bloc of over 500m and are going to be building new trading agreements with our biggest trading partner along with the rest of the world in very short order. We do not have the same leverage or power that we had so we must be more fleet of foot and flexible. There is an enormous responsibility on our politicians to get this right.

"The EU is our main and nearest market beyond the internal UK market, with established trade routes and partnerships. NFUS has been campaigning for free and frictionless trade with the EU to remain after Brexit. Remember our economies are very closely integrated.

"On trade, standards on imports must match ours or we will be living with double standards; one set for us and one for the rest of the world entering our market.

"Put simply, our food safety, animal and plant health, welfare, traceability and any climate change targets for farming and crofting will be sold to the cheapest bidder if we don’t have this. NFU Scotland has stated from the very beginning that we do not want agriculture and food to be a bargaining chip in these trade deals or to be sacrificed in the quest for cheap food.

"The 2020’s are going to be a massive decade and there are going to be a lot of bumps along the road, possibly collateral damage, but there are inevitably going to be opportunities.

"I believe we have the opportunity to refresh and renew our industry from the stagnation that CAP has created and the failure to understand the market, which CAP support has perpetuated.

"The public have different expectations now of rural Scotland than they had prior to our entry to the common market. We are expected to deliver on all these expectations, including climate change mitigation as well as the necessary provision of food.

"We need the tools and resources in order to work with Scottish Government towards their 2030 ambitions for a 75 percent reduction in emissions while doubling the value of our iconic food and drink sector to £30 billion.

"We need a holistic circular economy with sustainable resource use. This ambition must not be masked by exporting our climate change commitment by bringing in imports that are not delivering for the planet.

"Farmers have a contract with nature. We are the original environmentalists. Environmentalists need farmers to deliver their aspirations as custodians of the countryside and farmers need environmentalists as they are the key to the money."

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