RECENT shortages of vegetables on supermarket shelves should be a wake-up call to both politicians and public that domestic food security should be taken more seriously.
That was the message from NFU Scotland’s chief executive Scott Walker at Monday’s opening session of the annual NFUS agm: “Could you imagine the political storm if the headlines had been about no beef, no bread, no milk instead of no lettuce, no courgettes?”
“This week has provided a wake up call to all those who do not take food security seriously. UK food security levels have fallen from 75% in 1991 to 62% now and August 14 marks the day in the year when the British larder would be bare if we fed the nation only on British food.
“As we debate our post-Brexit future, the clear message for policymakers is that a robust production base is essential, food security is important and supply chains that deliver a fair reward to all are a must.”
Mr Walker stressed that the current unpredictable times would not deflect the union from its primary purpose of driving profitability and growth for Scottish agriculture, and while Brexit will undoubtedly be the biggest call on the union’s resources in the months and years ahead – it was not the only issue. 
He also reminded delegates that NFU Scotland was not the only lobbying organisation with a stake in the future or rural policy, nor was Scotland the only nation looking to sell its produce based on high levels of quality and provenance.
Mr Walker said: “We want to sell our Scottish products for a premium price based on our high production standards and our provenance. There are others out there looking to do the same and we only have to look across the water to Ireland to see what the competition looks like. 
“Post-Brexit, the need for market access and properly functioning supply chains will be more important than ever. This is a core objective for NFUS in the years ahead,” he said.
“And when it comes to negotiating agricultural policy and future basis for support in a post-Brexit era, our lobbying voice is strong – but it is just one of many that government and others will hear.
“We are effective. The solid support of all our members is what enables this union to represent Scottish agriculture when there are lots of others out there who don’t have farmers’ interests at heart when decisions are made that will affect the livelihoods of farming and crofting families.”