Union Welcomes New Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary

NFU Scotland has welcomed the new cabinet team and the Scottish Government’s desire to drive forward Scotland’s rural economy, Covid-19 recovery and climate change response in the years ahead.

It welcomes the appointment of all cabinet ministers including Mairi Gougeon, Scotland’s new Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, replacing Fergus Ewing, who had held the Cabinet Secretary post for Rural Economy since 2016.

Speaking on the appointments, NFU Scotland’s President Martin Kennedy said: “The redesigning of roles on matters that affect the Scottish rural economy, and the environment brings a fresh dynamic at a pivotal time for our industry.

“We are emerging into a post-CAP, post-Brexit, post-pandemic era where the Scottish Government has a unique opportunity to put the nation’s farming and food industries at the very heart of our green recovery and our response to addressing climate change and protecting biodiversity in Scotland.

“We look forward to engaging with all Cabinet Secretaries and working with them on behalf of farmers and crofters.

“Specifically on Scotland’s future agricultural policy, we look forward to working again with Mairi Gougeon as she sets up the integrated implementation board to drive forward the recent recommendations of the farmer-led climate change groups.

“We are keen to drive forward the excellent work recently undertaken by the five groups – Hill, Upland and Crofting; Suckler Beef; Arable; Dairy and Pigs – and hope to meet with the Cabinet Secretary and her new team once they have settled into post.”

On Fergus Ewing’s departure from Cabinet, Mr Kennedy said: “We wish Fergus and his family well and we are certain that his position as an MSP in a rural constituency like Inverness and Nairn means farming issues are never likely to be far from his door.

“Although it has been a relatively short time since I became President at NFU Scotland, my working relationship with Fergus now, and as a Vice President over the previous four years, has been highly valued on my part.

“Any requests for communication or action on any topic have been met with a quick response.  We may not have been 100 percent in agreement on all issues but that is the nature of politics and it is clear to us that our industry held Fergus in high regard.

“He has steered Scottish agriculture at a time of great change, negotiating our transition into the start of a new post-CAP, post-Brexit era.

“As a hard-working cabinet minister, Fergus was always very supportive of Scottish food and farming and made himself freely available to meet with farmers, crofters and stakeholders, regardless of the issue or crisis.  As an attendee at numerous board and committee meetings over the years, and a regular visitor to many farms, crofts and shows, he was a Cabinet Secretary genuinely interested in the farming industry and who always sought to deliver an outcome that would help all farmers and crofters.

“He was a polished performer at our AGM and annual debate at AgriScot in every year in which he held office and always fielded questions and engaged in discussions with wit and passion.
“His decision to create farmer-led climate change groups to give farmers and crofters a clear say in setting their future roadmap to a sustainable and profitable future provides a legacy that we will look to our new Cabinet Secretary and her team to drive forward with a degree of urgency.”

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