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NFUS manifesto launch: Next Scottish Parliament must deliver for rural economy

Delivering a fairer and more transparent supply chain which does not leave producers shouldering all the risk was among NFU Scotland’s key asks as it unveiled its manifesto ahead of the Scottish parliamentary elections.


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NFUS has published its manifesto ahead of next months' elections
NFUS has published its manifesto ahead of next months' elections

The document, which maps out more than 40 demands, calls on MSPs to deliver more for the farmers and crofters who it said were the ‘backbone’ of the country’s successful food and drink economy.

 

The points cover the future of support and its delivery systems; land reform; a stronger, fairer food and drink supply chain; appropriate environmental and land management systems; a crofting system fit for the 21st century; a commitment to tackling red tape and improved connectivity across all of Scotland.

 

Union chief executive Scott Walker said in the run up to an election, there was a danger MSPs would focus solely on the central belt of Scotland as they campaigned for votes. He said the union would keep applying pressure on MSPs to ensure Scottish agriculture was kept front and centre.

 

“We want to make sure that rural issues are at the forefront," said Mr Walker.

 

"The whole of Scotland needs to be the focus, not just the central belt.”

 

NFUS president Allan Bowie said MSPs in recent televised debates had tended to ignore countryside matters.

 

But, he said the new Scottish Parliament had the ability to ‘unlock the shackles placed on farming’, helping it in its role as the biggest driver of the rural economy.

 

“Key to that will be a mind-set change and the need for Scottish Government to adopt a fresh ‘can do’ attitude,” said Mr Bowie, calling for politicians to be ‘less risk averse’, especially when it came to flood relief and maintenance work.

 

“The way we address the devastating floods that hit Scotland at the start of the year must be the start,” he said.

 

“Working with partners, we need to look differently at the way we manage our rivers to the benefit of farmers and the wider community.”

 

The Scottish Government’s approach to regulation must also be overhauled, he said.

 

He highlighted Holyrood’s ‘gold-plating’ of CAP greening rules which he said placed producers at a competitive disadvantage.

 

“There is scope for a new approach to regulation that will make a genuine difference at farm level – such as only updating farm maps once a year or the need to electronically tagging sheep when they leave the holding of birth,” said Mr Bowie.

 

“We need delivery of Brian Pack’s ‘Doing Better’ report on red tape to be a Scottish Government priority in the next few years.

 

“That ‘can do’ attitude could include starting with a clean slate in relation to complex crofting legislation, simplifying the rules around common grazings and developing a framework that is fit for the wants and needs of modern-day crofting.”

 

 


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