'Politicking' Holding Back Prosperity, Progress, Says NFUS

SCOTLAND, UK - NFU Scotland’s President Andrew McCornick used the annual AgriScot event, held at Ingliston this week (20 November 2019) to demand that progress replaces political stagnation and uncertainty.
calendar icon 22 November 2019
clock icon 4 minute read

Calling for a positive outcome from the Brexit process, Mr McCornick said that, in the three-and-a-half years since the EU referendum, making long-term business decisions on farms and crofts was akin to playing the roulette tables at Las Vegas.

He added: "Politicians have failed to appreciate the difficulty in planning for the future by constantly kicking the can down the road.

"It may massage egos to be continually politicking on every issue but, behind that, people have to get on with their lives and their businesses. They are wholly frustrated by the policymakers and decision-takers not doing their jobs of running a vibrant, prosperous country."

Mr McCornick said that the union’s ‘mantra’ around trade, labour, future policy and support was virtually unchanged since the vote in June 2016.

He said: "I am a free marketeer and believe in the marketplace, but it is not working as this year stands testament to. There is no sector that has not suffered in 2019 to one degree or another.

"When you look at the difficult situation that beef, milk and cereals producers find themselves in, it is abundantly clear that trade is the glue that allows us to function. We cannot be asked to provide the safe, high standard traceable food we do if it is sold out to poor trade deals that export all this quality for the sake of cheap food.

"But we must help ourselves. I want to see trade delegations being invited to Scotland and tripping me up as they go from farm and croft to plate and all places in between, as we build relationships and open doors for new markets."

Mr McCornick called on Scottish Development International, Scotland Food and Drink and Scottish Government to ‘pull up your socks’ and invest more time and cash in the industry’s 2030 ambition of doubling the value of the food and drink sector.

Looking closer to home, Mr McCornick added: "A nation which values good food and drink should also be one which values the production of that food as a basic principle. There is a wealth of opportunities for Scottish Government to put food producers on a better footing if it delivers, as promised, Good Food Nation legislation in this parliamentary term.

"That legislation must prioritise local, fresh produce through public procurement; better food and drink education in schools and wider society; and provide more support for agricultural and food and drink businesses to grow their output in a sustainable way."

On future agricultural policy, Mr McCornick said: "We are looking to build a profitable, sustainable agriculture that is the backbone to our food and drink ambition while meeting the climate change challenge of reducing our emissions by 75 percent come 2030 and yet we have to wait until 2024 to see the new Scottish agriculture policy.

"Expecting an industry to turn around in six years is unacceptable. We, as farmers and crofters, want to be a big part in delivering for both these ambitions but not if we don’t know where we are going or what we have to do to get there.

"Delivery of our climate change ambition and a profitable farming sector must also be seen in the harsh light of a retailer-dominated marketplace where cheap food is king.

"That means we will continue to require a support package that delivers fair and adequate returns. Our industry deserves a real opportunity to have a profit. We are prepared to deliver to the highest of global standards and meet the climate change targets as they come but we cannot do this without an adequately supported package geared round activity and rewarding the real risk-takers. That will drive change to meet Government and public ambition."

Turning to the workforce, Mr McCornick said solving issues around having adequate permanent and seasonal staff should have been ‘low hanging fruit’ for the UK Government and should have been sorted a long time ago.

"If we do not retain the free movement of people after this Brexit debacle then we face the completely unacceptable prospect of rearing produce and growing crops in Scotland that we are either not going to be able to harvest or process to get it to market. Our industry needs a competent, reliable, well-rewarded labour force and the sooner the Government wakes up to that fact, the better."

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.