NFU Scotland president Bowie meets Minister of State

NFU Scotland has met with the government to reaffirm its priorities as the UK looks to negotiate an exit from the European Union.

A team from NFU Scotland including president Allan Bowie, chief executive Scott Walker, director of policy Jonnie Hall and parliamentary officer Clare Slipper met with David Jones MP, Minister of State at the recently created Department for Exiting the European Union.

At the meeting in Westminster, the NFU Scotland representatives laid out what they believed needed to be done to secure productive agriculture in Scotland.

Bowie said: The UK government is already in the process of establishing its priorities and it is vitally important that we engage with them now and make sure they are clear on what Scottish farmers and crofters want.

There is strong recognition that Scottish agricultures needs from Brexit negotiations will differ from the rest of the UK and that this must be a factor under any future arrangements. There are already marked differences between different parts of the UK. In Scotland, for example, we have opted to use part of our existing support package to target key sectors, like beef and hill sheep, and the ability of Scotland to make such decisions will clearly need to be maintained.

They called for a follow-through on the promises made during the referendum campaign.

While assurances have been given about support levels during the Brexit negotiating period, we pressed the case for funding levels to be maintained once we are outside the EU and that they go hand-in-hand with an agricultural policy focused on active production, that fits with Scottish agricultures needs, added Bowie. That requires a future UK agricultural policy that is truly representative of all parts of the UK and recognises the differences and the drivers of the industry in Scotland. We must make the most of the opportunities for our farming, food and drink sectors that Brexit presents. We can support jobs and grow income but only if we prioritise the needs of farming.

He outlined other topics discussed during the Brexit meeting.

The importance of a trade deal with Europe, future trading arrangements with the rest of the world and access to non-UK labour were all issues discussed in our valuable discussions with the Minister, he said. And Scotlands requirements go further, stretching into research funding and capacity to underpin innovation, the protection of branding for renowned Scottish products, and the regulatory framework that governs standards.

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