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STANDFIRST: ‘Let us be clear: NFU Scotland will engage with all MPs, of all parties, to ensure the best outcomes for our membership,’ Clare Skipper
Before the dust of the General Election had settled, NFUS kick-started an extensive programme of engagement with Scotland’s intake of MPs and the new UK government.
NFU Scotland has written to every MP in Scotland, inviting them to early meetings to make progress on the 10 key priorities set out in its election manifesto document
This addresses the pressing Brexit issue, as well as climate change, animal welfare, opportunities for new entrants and food producers’ standing in the supply chain.
NFU Scotland will also extend an invitation to the Secretary of State for Scotland, once appointed, to attend and address the upcoming NFU Scotland AGM in February next year.
Clare Slipper, NFU Scotland’s political affairs manager, said: ‘With the dust from last week’s election settled, now begins the hard work with Scotland’s representatives in Westminster.
‘Let us be clear: NFU Scotland will engage with all MPs, of all parties, to ensure the best outcomes for our membership.
‘As well as organising meetings with Scottish MPs, we are also seeking early engagement with key appointments within the government.
‘Having looked at the policies within the Conservative’s manifesto line-by-line, there are areas of strength and opportunity and other areas that our members will find more challenging. Our role is to bridge that gap.’
Ms Slipper said that Brexit is the most pressing issue: ‘It is almost certain that the UK will be leaving the EU on January 31, and NFU Scotland will work closely with the UK government to ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible.
‘After that point, the UK, the EU and the international community will enter an intense negotiating period on the terms of future trading relationships.
‘NFU Scotland will build on the strong markers it has already laid in terms of maintaining our world-class standards of production and protecting the UK’s agri-food market from substandard imports.’
NFU Scotland believes that the Prime Minister must deliver on the previous government’s commitment to establish a Commission on Standards.
‘We welcome the Conservative government’s commitment to extend the current annual budget to farmers throughout the duration of the next parliament. We will seek certainty on this staying ring fenced to agriculture, as well as the quantum of funding that will be delivered from now through to 2024,’ she said.
‘The new UK Government must work with the devolved administrations to recommence negotiations on how future financial, regulatory and policy frameworks will operate across the UK to ensure the Scottish Government can make the right decisions on future agricultural policy for Scottish farmers and crofters.
‘We are interested by the policies within the Conservative manifesto concerning regulatory simplification and streamlining the tax system both of which could provide positive opportunities to boost rural business.
‘There are more challenging aspects to the Conservative government’s proposed policies where we must ensure that there aren’t negative consequences, intended or unintended, for our members. These include the party’s uninformed position regarding the movement of live animals – an issue on which NFU Scotland lobbied the previous government hard.’
Fear for farm labour
NFU Scotland completely rejects the Tory suggestion that routes to permanent residence for ‘low skilled’ workers should be shut off, adding: ‘This would be extremely damaging to the whole of the UK agri-food sector.’
The union wants the government to secure a comprehensive immigration system that is based on the needs of the labour market.