First Minister updates farmers on approach to Europe.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told farmers today that she will fight for the best possible deal for the industry at home and in Europe in the wake of Brexit.
Speaking at the NFUS AGM, the First Minister confirmed Professor Russel Griggs will chair a group designed to ensure a profitable, sustainable and environmentally friendly future for the agriculture industry.
The First Minister re-asserted her commitment to Scotland’s farmers highlighting the distinct interests of farming in Scotland that make it crucial that any powers transferred from the EU in the event of Brexit go to the Scottish Parliament rather than to Westminster.
To help grow new markets for Scottish red meat, the First Minister confirmed £16,000 will be made available to support a promotion drive at key international food shows.
“Brexit presents the biggest challenge to farming in Scotland in our generation. Agriculture is a more important part of Scotland’s economy than the UK because of our landscape and climate. So it’s important for the agriculture sector that Scotland has a strong say in the negotiations with the EU.
“It’s vital to ensuring that the settlement which is reached meets your needs and the Scottish Government will work with the industry to make the sector as sustainable and efficient as possible.
“This is why we have appointed Professor Russel Griggs to chair a group to review the Scottish Government’s approach to greening and make recommendations for a profitable, sustainable and environmentally friendly industry.
“In addition, it is also vital that any powers which are transferred from the European Union, at the time of Brexit, must go to the Scottish Parliament rather than to Westminster. It is the best way of ensuring that future decisions on farming reflect Scotland’s distinct priorities.
“Of course, now more than ever, it’s important that we look to the future and continue expanding the market for our quality produce. That’s why we will support additional work this year to promote our quality meat sector, at trade fairs in Asia and North America. This will build on the work we’ve already done to boost our dairy brand, and it will help send the message that Scotland is open for business.
“And at the same time as we argue for your interests on Brexit, we will also work with you on the day-to-day actions needed to make the sector as sustainable and efficient as possible – encouraging new entrants; recognising farming’s place at the heart of our food and drink industry’s success; and developing a sustainable strategy for the future.”
Professor Russel Griggs will lead a group, representing farming and environmental interests, to review the Scottish Government’s approach to greening and recommend how the available policy and support mechanisms can be used most effectively in Scotland to promote profitable farming while meeting the Scottish Government’s environmental commitments. The terms of reference and membership of the group will shortly be published.
As part of this review, the group will consider the detailed implementation arrangements for the planned changes to 2018 greening rules, announced yesterday by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing http://news.gov.scot/news/common-agricultural-policy-update. It will also consider further possible changes to the rules, including taking account of the European Commission’s Simplification Review of greening once it has concluded in April 2017.
An independent review of greening undertaken by the James Hutton Institute will shortly be published, and will help to inform discussion in the group.
Further research into the optimal long-term approach to encouraging sustainable and profitable farming in Scotland will be commissioned.
Professor Russel Griggs chairs the Scottish Government’s independent Regulatory Review Group who advise and work on better regulation in Scotland. He was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2008 for services to Scottish Industry.