NFU Scotland has used an evidence session in the Scottish Parliament to reiterate its priorities as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.
Speaking at a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Affairs Committee, NFU Scotland’s Parliamentary Officer Clare Slipper stressed that Scottish farming must not be used as a bargaining chip as we negotiate our exit from the European Union and establish new trade arrangements.
She added that a commitment to maintain CAP support levels in the run up to Brexit, and in the years post-Brexit were vital for stability and confidence.
Speaking after the session, Ms Slipper said: “A point made loud and clear to committee members was that agricultural production is the bedrock of Scotland’s successful food and drinks industry and, as the central plank of our biggest manufacturing sector, farming must not be used as a bargaining chip as we negotiate Brexit and the establishment of new trade agreements.
“To secure the levels of food being produced from our farms and crofts in the future, ongoing support remains vitally important. The current CAP package, due to run until 2020, is likely to span the UK’s expected exit from the European Union.
“We want Government to send out a clear message on its commitment to support levels in the future and we believe the next four rounds of payments, from now until 2020, should be delivered as promised and as budgeted for. That would provide a confident platform going forwards.
“In the longer term, the real prize will be creating a new system of support in Scotland that fits with our farming and crofting systems. Our initial thoughts are that we would want that to genuinely reward activity as well as considering other elements such as research, innovation, knowledge transfer and advisory services.
“It is important that the views of our members drive our vision for future support arrangements. This autumn will see us embarking on a consultation process that will put members at the forefront of setting our new policy priorities for the future.
“Much as financial support is really important to farmers and crofters, and delivers excellent value to the consumer, in the future we should take the opportunity to create a Scottish support system which allows farmers to take more back from the market as well as having financial tools available to manage volatility in prices.
“These, and other models, will form the basis of consultation we’ll be running with members in the latter part of the year.”