Government must help Britain’s farmers feed the country

Vice presidents Robin Traquair, left, and Andrew Connon, right, accompanied NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy on a mission to Westminster to make the point that surging costs and rapid land use change will compromise our ability to produce food in Britain

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Urgent UK Government help is required to help farmers deal with severe hurdles including escalating costs for fertiliser, fuel, energy and animal feed and labour.

That was the main message as a delegation from NFU Scotland completed an intensive two-day cross-party lobbying visit to Westminster highlighting the critical issues impacting farmers and crofters to politicians.

For the first time since being elected in February 2021, vice presidents Andrew Connon and Robin Traquair joined president Martin Kennedy at a meeting with MPs and lords from Conservative, SNP and Liberal Democrat parties at Westminster. NFU Scotland’s director of policy Jonnie Hall and political affairs manager Beatrice Morrice accompanied the team.

Given the importance of the farming and crofting sectors to the Scottish economy, the group discussed with politicians the unprecedented increases in input costs as well as labour shortages and a UK immigration system described as ‘dysfunctional’ by Scotland’s farming union.

Other important matters, including supply chain problems and the role of the Grocery Code Adjudicator in ensuring farmers and crofters receive a fair price for their produce, were also tackled.

President Martin Kennedy said after the Westminster visit: ‘NFU Scotland continues to put food security front and centre of our lobbying priorities. It is abundantly clear the context around food security has shifted and we need political action to address it in the short and medium term.

‘We used this intensive two-day meeting with MPs and lords across political parties to highlight the growing impact that surging costs linked to fertiliser, fuel, energy, animal feed and labour are having on the nation’s ability to produce food.

‘Post-Brexit labour shortages and other ongoing Brexit issues such as the loss of the seed potato market to Europe were also on the agenda, as was the recognition that rapid land use change will compromise our ability to produce food in an increasingly unstable operating environment.

‘Longer term solutions to create a sustainable platform for farmers and crofters are required but they are reliant on long-term financial commitments from HM Treasury to support the sector.

‘That financial commitment at a UK level will enable us to deliver a new and more urgent agenda around food production, emission reduction and enhancing the environment through a devolved policy that Scottish Government is in the process of developing and delivering alongside farmers and crofters.’

PIC:

Vice presidents Robin Traquair, left, and Andrew Connon, right, accompanied NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy on a mission to Westminster to make the point that surging costs and rapid land use change will compromise our ability to produce food in Britain. no_a18Farming_NFUS01