Just days after the national farmers’ Union in Scotland drew up a list of 10 Brexit commitments being looked for by the agricultural community, it now has a new Prime Minister south of the border to deal with.
When NFU Scotland published its 10 commitments, its president, Allan Bowie, said: “Even though we are at a very early point in what is likely to be a lengthy process, it is important that we set out our key even at this early stage, to set out what we consider the priorities are for the negotiations.”
However, what he didn’t foresee was that the pace would speed up as Andrea Leadsom withdrew from the contest to be Conservative party leader and Prime Minister and a new Prime Minister, Theresa May, would replace David Cameron this week rather than in September.
The union has been in constant communication with the Scottish Government, and it has been reassured that the interests of agriculture and the rural economy will be at the forefront during negotiations to leave the European Union.
Now the Scottish Government will communicate the expectations of rural Scotland to Mrs May as the lengthy process of negotiating an exit from Europe begins and a replacement for the EU’s common agricultural policy is established.
“It is in everyone’s interests that Scotland has a successful farming sector and that the negotiated future trading relationship with Europe and the rest of the world results in a profitable and competitive agricultural industry in Scotland,” added Mr Bowie.
The 10 points outlined are:
The next four rounds of payments being delivered as planned, and as budgeted for by farmers and crofters.
Future deals on tariffs and market access must ensure that we have a strong and vibrant domestic farming industry which must not be used as a bargaining chip.
Continued recognition of the Scotch beef and Scotch lamb protected geographical indications must be secured;
Trading arrangements negotiated with Europe and the rest of the world must allow all the workers that the Scottish farming and food-processing industries rely upon to continue to play their vital role.
Overly prescriptive bureaucratic requirements that add costs but deliver no added value must be removed to allow farming to be competitive.
All decisions relating to the use of pesticides, herbicides and new technologies must be based on science.
The promotion of Scottish food and drink in export markets must be prioritised. Scottish agriculture’s world class products can grow exports, thereby supporting economic activity and jobs in Scotland.
Effective advisory services, practical research, tailored education, meaningful knowledge transfer and measures that support innovation are required to drive efficient and profitable agricultural production in Scotland.
Public bodies, governments and local authorities must all adopt food procurement policies based on sourcing of food produced in Scotland.
Clear and unambiguous country of origin labelling on meat, meat products, milk and dairy products must be delivered as soon as possible.
“A week may be a long time in politics, but you can be in no doubt that your union is working to ensure a thriving agricultural industry for the future,” added union Parliamentary officer Clare Slipper.