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NFU Scotland Seeks First Minister Support for Future of Farming and Crofting

Martin Kennedy (NFU Scotland President)

NFU Scotland has written to Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf MSP ahead of the new Parliamentary session and the publication of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government.  The letter calls for his support to secure a viable future for Scotland’s farmers and crofters.

It states that the First Minister’s clear and unequivocal backing for agriculture and putting food production at the heart of Government policy, would send an important signal to the industry and provide the confidence needed to invest in the future.  Importantly, it would recognise the vital role the industry has in the delivery of the Scottish Government’s outcomes around food, climate, and biodiversity.

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The letter maps out the current economic, policy and regulatory challenges faced by farmers and crofters, including nine Bills, Plans, Strategies and Frameworks to be addressed in the coming parliamentary term that all have ramifications for the sector. It then sets out five areas where the Scottish Government must assist.

  • Food production at the heart of future agricultural policy NFU Scotland calls on the Scottish Government to put food production front and centre of future policy. An Agriculture Bill (due later this month) that recognises agricultural activity, drives efficiency and productivity while building resilience and enhancing our environment will deliver the Scottish Government’s aspirations on food security and supply.
  • Increased, multi-annual and ring-fenced commitment on future funding Support and investment in Scotland’s farmers and crofters is critical to ensure our food security, promote a prosperous economy, respond to the climate challenge and help biodiversity recover and flourish. Within this, we need a commitment to continue to allocate 80 percent of future funding as direct support to agriculture.
  • Good Food Nation Act that delivers for primary producers through a ‘Scottish First’ policy NFU Scotland calls on the Scottish Government to ensure the Good Food Nation (Scotland) Act delivers for Scottish agriculture and the wider food and drink sector through the commitment to a ‘Scottish First’ policy for local sourcing through the forthcoming National Food Plan.
  • Urgent review of the regulatory burden on Scotland’s agricultural sector NFU Scotland asks that an urgent review is undertaken to assess the significant volume and range of policy and legislative measures emerging over the coming year and review the cumulative impact on farmers and crofters.
  • Raising the profile of Scottish Agriculture and Supporting Local NFU Scotland asks the Scottish Government to help to raise the profile of the farming sector across all aspects of Scottish Government, parliament and society as a whole. Agriculture is the lynchpin of rural communities across Scotland and is an important part of Scotland’s booming food and drink industry. It calls on Scottish Government to stimulate more demand for Scottish produce across a range of markets including retail and food service.

In the letter, NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy wrote: “I believe the Scottish Government has an unprecedented opportunity through its policy and legislative programme to support Scotland’s farming industry to respond to the many challenges and seize our potential. 

“Scottish Government backing will enable us to continue producing the food we need, accelerate our efforts to address the climate challenge, support biodiversity recovery and, critically, continue to be that economic and social lifeblood of communities the length and breadth of the country. 

“Our contribution to the economy and the social fabric of Scotland is immense and we have more to give. But the next few years are going to be critical as decisions taken by the Scottish Government will shape the future of the industry for many years to come and, if the right decisions are made, will underpin our long-term viability.

“The First Minister’s commitment to support the five areas we have outlined is of vital importance to secure a sustainable, resilient and profitable agricultural sector for Scotland and we look forward to working with the First Minister to achieve that.”

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