Union Launches Scottish Farming Manifesto

SCOTLAND, UK - In advance of the impending Scottish elections, taking place on Thursday, 5 May, Scotland’s farming union has laid out its challenge to political parties and their candidates on the key issues for the future of Scottish food and farming.
calendar icon 8 April 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

NFU Scotland has launched its programme for the next Scottish Government with Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, penalties, red tape, land use and relationships with supermarkets topping the list of priorities for the next Scottish parliamentary term. The manifesto launch follows up regular meetings with the major Scottish parties in the past term where many of the issues that are contained within this document have been discussed.

By way of putting these policies in context, NFUS has stressed the crucial role Scottish farming and its associated industries play in producing food, maintaining the vast majority of Scotland’s iconic landscape, providing employment, underpinning rural communities and upholding high environmental, food safety and animal health and welfare standards.

The document lists the Union’s challenges for the next Scottish Government and Parliament as follows:

  • The Scottish Government must maintain effective relationships with Westminster and the EU and press the UK Government to take account of Scotland’s unique priorities in reforming the CAP.
  • We need a flexible, transparent CAP system, which recognises Scotland’s priorities, is underpinned by a strong budget and ensures that only truly active farmers are the recipients of support.
  • We must have a more proportionate system of inspections and penalties under the CAP focussed on outcomes, not the technicalities of process, and recognising that genuine errors must be dealt with fairly.
  • The Scottish Government must minimise the administrative burdens on farm businesses (and regulators) wherever possible and ensure the enforcement of regulations is fair, consistent and proportionate.
  • The Scottish Government must consider Scotland’s multifunctional land use and the need to balance the competing priorities of food security and climate change.
  • The Scottish Government must do everything within its power to ensure better and fairer relations within the food and drink supply chain.

Speaking from Brussels, where he is meeting Commission officials and other farming unions on CAP Reform, NFU Scotland’s President, Nigel Miller said:

“In this document, NFUS sets out its own programme for the Scottish Government and to create the foundation from which our crucial sector can flourish. NFU Scotland is lucky to have had a good working relationship with previous Scottish Governments and the Scottish Parliament.

“We will establish a working relationship with whatever Scottish Government the electorate chooses on May 5 and past experience has shown that we have proven adept at dealing with any political change an election may deliver.

“Our work with the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament has generally been very beneficial for all Scotland’s farmers and crofters over the past and previous parliamentary terms and we shall make sure that all our connections are used to best effect, whatever the outcome of the May elections.

“Since the last Scottish election in 2007, three issues have risen in prominence at a national, European and global level; namely climate change, food security and energy security. In addition, at home, we have seen a renaissance in consumer interest in local, high quality food and drink. The importance of Scottish agriculture in providing plentiful, safe and nutritious food in a sustainable fashion is clearly increasing. Our ability to produce renewable energy is also of rapidly increasing interest and potential. In view of the economic crisis, it must be remembered that Scottish farming and its associated industries can help to provide a bedrock of recovery.

“It is crucial that the future Scottish Government and Parliament recognise what the farming industry is already doing to secure food supplies, manage our environment and landscapes, and strengthen the rural economy; all against a backdrop of economic pressures in the supply chain, a burgeoning regulatory environment and the impact on the ground of climate change.

“Scottish farming is diverse and, in many respects, thriving. It is also crucial to Scotland’s rural economy, underpinning it economically, environmentally and socially. Scottish farmers are able to produce food of amongst the highest welfare and environmental standards in the world, giving Scotland a reliable and sustainable source of food and building on it’s reputation as a land of food and drink.

“The forecast is good in many respects, but there are big challenges which need to be addressed, some of which will fall to the Scottish Government to help to resolve.”

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