The rural economy’s future

National Council established.

A National Council of Rural Advisers has been announced by Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing.

The National Council will provide advice on the potential implications of Scotland leaving the EU as part of the UK, and make recommendations on future policy and support, with the aim of ensuring a vibrant, sustainable and productive rural economy.

The remit of the National Council covers all aspects of future rural development, including appropriate financial support beyond 2022.

Announcing the new group ahead of the Royal Highland Show, Mr Ewing said:

“I want to drive the rural economy forward and that is why I am announcing the establishment of a National Council, bringing together key experts, including the agriculture champions, to look at the future of the sector and provide me with recommendations early next year.

“While it will be for the National Council to set up work stream groups as needed to focus on specific issues, I would anticipate themes such as affordability, sustainability, productivity, inclusion and innovation – and of course the wider implications of the UK’s decision to leave the EU – to feature prominently.

“I am confident the National Council can become an engine of expertise that helps to set a strategic framework for future policy development and I look forward to working with all parties towards our shared goal of creating a sustainable rural economy.”


Lorne Crerar and Alison Milne are to be Co- Chairs of the National Council of Rural Advisers. Advisers participate as individuals.

Lorne Crerar joined the Board of HIE in April 2008 and was appointed as Chair in March 2012. Lorne is a founding partner and Chairman of leading Scottish commercial law firm Harper Macleod LLP.

He held the Chair of Banking Law at Glasgow University from 1997 until his retirement in August 2015 and is now Emeritus Professor of Banking Law.   Lorne has broad experience of public sector operations and was formerly Deputy Chairman of Scottish Enterprise. He was appointed as Convener of the Standards Commission in June 2003 (under the Ethical Standards in Public Life (Scotland Act 2000). Lorne resigned from this office in September 2006 to take up the Chair of the 'Independent Review of Regulation, Audit, Inspection and Complaints Handling of Public Services in Scotland' which reported in September 2007.

Alison Milne is a self-employed consultant, currently representing the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association on matters relating to agricultural policy.  In this role Alison is currently involved in stakeholder groups at both Scottish and UK level and is committed to promoting the interests of Scotland’s agricultural industry. Prior to setting up her own consultancy business, Alison was employed for 8 years with the National Farmers Union of Scotland in various roles, promoting the interests of the national industry.  Alison was Commercial and Operations Director for NFUS from 2008 to 2013. 

Alison also farms a mixed arable and livestock business, in partnership with her husband, mother and father-in-law.  In this role Alison was a driving force in hosting the Fife HGCA arable Monitor Farm from 2013 to 2016.  Alison and her husband are both passionate about the future of family farming in Scotland and used the Monitor farm as an opportunity to discuss how to build a better future for Fife’s family farming businesses.


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