NFU Scotland President, Andrew McCornick from Dumfries and Galloway; Director of Policy, Jonnie Hall; and Political Affairs Manager, Clare Slipper attended a day of back-to-back meetings in Westminster on Wednesday 2 May, where they highlighted to parliamentarians and officials the importance of ensuring Scottish agriculture, food and drink has a prosperous future in the Brexit negotiations.

NFU Scotland is travelling to London on at least a monthly basis in order to meet with key parliamentarians, civil servants and stakeholders as it continues to highlight its key Brexit priorities of trade, labour and future agricultural support.

The meetings fell on the same day as a crunch meeting of the UK Cabinet, on the key issue of the UK’s membership of a customs union with the EU. The UK and Scottish Governments have also continued their negotiations on the transposition of EU regulation, including the new agricultural framework, after Brexit via the EU (Withdrawal) Bill this week.

Wednesday’s meetings in London follow the launch of the latest iteration of NFU Scotland’s post-Brexit agricultural policy document, ‘Steps to Change’.

The Steps to Change document sets out a blueprint for future agricultural policy in Scotland which NFU Scotland believes complements the initial messages coming from the Scottish Government’s National Council of Rural Advisors; Agricultural Champions; and Griggs Greening Review Group. The Scottish proposals in Steps to Change also line up well alongside the separate plans that have been put on the table by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in its ‘Health and Harmony’ Command Paper for England.

During the day, the NFU Scotland representatives met with officials from HM Treasury, to begin a dialogue on how such a future policy framework might be funded on an intra-UK basis. NFU Scotland has consistently argued that at least the same quantum of funding must remain ringfenced to Scottish agriculture after Brexit.

NFU Scotland President, Andrew McCornick, said: “NFU Scotland has made a conscious effort to have a regular presence in London to meet with key decision-makers in the parliament and government. I was pleased to meet today with officials from HM Treasury, as well as parliamentary committee clerks from the Scottish Affairs Committee, and parliamentarians from the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, and the Conservative Party.
“This is just part of our extensive programme of engagement around Brexit and our Steps to Change document. It is important that our proposals for Scotland line up with what will be implemented in England post-Brexit and we are pleased with the reception this document has received from Westminster decision-makers. We continue to push for progress on the new agricultural policy with those in Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament, as well as discussing the proposals with key rural, environmental and consumer stakeholders – and most importantly our members.
“However, this policy will not be a success unless all of Scottish agriculture can forge ahead in a fair and prosperous operating environment. For NFU Scotland, that means maintaining free and frictionless trade with the EU that upholds exacting standards and stops cheaper food that is produced to lower standards from being imported. It is key that we get these issues out in the open for discussion, particularly when the UK Cabinet is deciding its stance on the fundamental issue of the customs union.
“It also means ensuring continued access to workers from out-with the UK – a key issue which we are yet to receive any answers on.
“We will return to Westminster before the summer recess to continue our dialogue on this and other important topics.”

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