Transformational decade must be used as a gateway to opportunity for Scotland's farmers and crofters.

The 2020s will be a transformational decade for Scotland’s farmers and crofters and must be used as a gateway to opportunity according to outgoing NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 9:32 am
Updated Monday, 1st March 2021, 9:34 am
Andrew McCornick NFU President

Addressing the AGM, Mr McCornick said Scottish farming and crofting stands on the edge of the most significant change in generations.

Leaving Europe, the impact of Covid-19, the challenge of climate change and significant changes in agricultural policy from 2025 will be the drivers and the Scottish industry will respond positively. He said ambition was great but the Scottish Government must deliver the policy roadmap necessary to drive change.

Speaking to a large online audience, Mr McCornick said: “We could bemoan the fact we have left Europe, or we can look for the opportunities for the global country we have now become. Stepping away from half a century under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) allows us to move to a smarter way of delivering for our industry, supporting the environment, biodiversity, climate change, and delivering our high standards of food production.

“Stepping away from rewarding people for occupying land and having to meet the bureaucratic requirements of a CAP formulated as a compromise from the Artic Circle to the Mediterranean to a future policy that delivers on actively farmed and managed land in Scotland for Scotland.

“NFU Scotland has been crystal clear. Our industry is one that can change, and will change, to meet public aspirations with an upbeat forward-looking mindset.

“This outlook will empower our farmers and crofters and drive us forward to the holy grail of sustainable profit, done in parallel with tackling climate change and delivering affordable healthy food which the public expect as a return for their investment in support for our industry.

"A vibrant industry that will underpin upstream and downstream suppliers and processors and be the cornerstone of thousands of productive businesses in our rural and national economy.

“The cards are very much stacked in our favour. We can deliver on so many fronts provided policy, support and opportunities are formulated coherently and speedily, especially when you consider that the stretching 2030 targets for our food and drink industry and emission reductions are already set in stone.

“The ambition is great, nobody would disagree, but the “how” is sorely missing and time is short. I call on Scottish Government to give Scottish Agriculture a policy roadmap now, so that we know how to build the path to deliver profitable and sustainable crofting and farming while meeting all the ambitious targets.”

Continuing to trade with the EU on a tariff and quota free basis through the Trade and Cooperation Agreement is undoubtedly very important, but Mr McCornick said the UK internal market is the most critical and important market for Scottish producers.

At the event, Mr McCornick joined the Presidents of the three other UK farming Union’s – Minette Batters, NFU; Victor Chestnutt, Ulster Farmers’ Union and John Davies, of the NFU Cymru – on a virtual panel to debate future trade and agricultural policies across the four devolved nations.