National Council of Rural Advisers (NCRA)


The independent National Council of Rural Advisers (NCRA) was announced in summer 2017 by the Minister for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing.

The NCRA disbanded following delivery of their final report. The Rural Economy Action Group are taking forward the implementation of the NCRA recommendations.

The Council's remit was twofold:

  • to provide evidence based advice to Scottish Ministers on the implications of Scotland leaving the EU
  • to recommend future actions that could sustain a vibrant and flourishing rural economy



The council met regularly every 4-6 weeks.


On 29 September 2018, the NCRA published their final recommendations: A new blueprint for rural economy: recommendations to Scottish Ministers.

The Council also published its interim report into the implications for rural Scotland of the UK leaving the EU in November 2017.

That report was intended as a snapshot of those aspects of rural life that the NCRA think are key to informing the Scottish Government on Brexit.

The report covered the potential implications of Brexit on rural Scotland, with a focus on trade, labour and skills, funding, legislation and standards. It concluded with a number of key areas that should be taken forward by everyone as we prepare for Brexit in spring 2019 and beyond.

Stakeholder workshops

The Council recognised it was essential to engage rural communities in voicing the needs of rural Scotland, and welcomes views that will shape their work.

Council co-Chair, Alison Milne, chaired stakeholder 'Rural thinks' workshops across Scotland from many communities representatives including small and medium enterprises, agriculture, social enterprises, fisheries, farmers, forestry, renewable energy organisations, government organisations and many more. The Council also consulted with with young people and equalities groups.

The aim of these workshops was to gather feedback to help develop recommendations on the future of the rural economy, including how to create and maintain a vibrant rural economy.

Each workshop comprised discussion around the following three themes:

  • infrastructure – enabling success
  • people – investing in talent and creating opportunities
  • vision – the narrative of Rural Scotland – selling the story and the brand

Workshop reports

Related groups


The Council was co-chaired by Alison Milne and Lorne Crerar with an additional twelve members drawn from a variety of backgrounds.

Members were appointed as unpaid and independent advisors on the basis of their lived expertise within the rural economy.

  • Archie Gibson - Chair of Food and Drink Federation Scotland
  • David Sulman - Executive Director of the United Kingdom Forest Products Association (UKFPA)
  • Sarah Simpson - dairy farm director and consultant to a group of dairy farms within Dumfries and Galloway
  • Alan Laidlaw - Chief Executive of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS)
  • Marion McCormick - former ALDI executive
  • John Kinnaird - farmer and a Fellow of Royal Agricultural Societies
  • Henry Graham - farmer and member of Forestry Commission Scotland's National Committee
  • Jim McLaren - Chairman of QMS
  • Lynn Mann - co-owner of Supernature Oils
  • Sarah Allison - farmer and member of The Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs
  • Jackie Brierton - Enterprise Manager for GrowBiz
  • Willie Cameron - Business Development Director of the Cobbs Group of Companies

You can also read full biographies of the members.