I recently met with Clyde branch representatives of National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) Jen Craig, Branch Chair, Tom French, Vice Chair, Iain Renwick and Jim Russell to discuss the challenges the farming and agricultural sector face over the coming years.
Farming and agriculture is always a challenging sector but farmers are facing very uncertain times. Last year there was utter chaos around farm payments being administered and many have lost confidence in the Scottish Government’s ability to get payments out on time.
Delays last year had a serious knock on effect on the wider rural economy and I will be calling on the Scottish Government to reassure my constituents that there will not be a repeat of last year’s disaster.
Brexit is also understandably of concern to the farming community. The group I met with stressed how important it will be that Scotland develops a structure for funding including agri environment schemes for the future that are not ‘one size fits all’.
I agree that decision making and funding for the future of Scottish agriculture has to be largely devolved to Holyrood as arrangements are made for the post Brexit years. Scottish agriculture differs greatly from down south and indeed there are major differences in climate and topography which must be recognised and accounted for.
I am committed to taking forward these issues and I will work closely with my colleague Rhoda Grant who is our spokesperson for Rural Economy and Connectivity to ensure these concerns are heard.