NFU SCOTLAND returned to Westminster this week to discuss the progress of the UK Government’s Agriculture Bill, meeting with the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, Lord Duncan, as well as MPs and members of the House of Lords.

With the Bill due to shortly move into the Lords, the union held discussions with cross-party members of the House of Lords to highlight areas of the Bill which they would like to see amendments on.

These areas include the creation of a Multi-annual financial framework for agricultural policy payments, which would provide longer-term certainty for claimants and would protect the agricultural budget from discretionary spending decisions.

They stressed once again the importance of valuing Scotland’s food producers by protecting them from new trade deals which could jeopardise current standards. NFUS support amendments to the Bill which will ensure food production and security are at its heart, which would ensure that domestic producers can continue championing high quality and standards

Director of policy Jonnie Hall said: “NFU Scotland stands with the majority of business and industry organisations in that a ‘no deal’ Brexit outcome must be avoided at all costs. That is why it is important that at this crunch point in the negotiations MPs on all sides recognise how much is at stake if we do not strike a deal on the UK’s exit from the EU,” he urged.

“Whilst the coming days of debate in the Commons and the parliamentary vote on December 11 will be dripping in politics, it is important that NFUS maintains its presence in front of Westminster decision-makers to remind them of the interests of our members as they vote on the deal and as other Brexit legislation proceeds through parliament,” he stressed.

Since the Brexit vote took place, the union has made it clear that a good deal for its 8500 members will deliver friction free trade with the EU, equivalence in the standards of imports, the opportunity for non-UK workers to fill seasonal and permanent roles and the assurance that Scottish ministers will be equipped with the tools to develop a new agricultural policy which will support Scotland’s unique farming profile.

“What is on the table in terms of the draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration does not guarantee all of these asks,” Mr Hall continued. “But it does guarantee a pathway to negotiate and get our industry to a more certain future. After two and a half years, Scotland’s farmers and crofters need a clear picture of what their future will look like and how they can transition to change in a way that ensures they remain profitable, prosperous and productive.

“That means getting a good deal from the EU withdrawal process and ensuring Brexit legislation such as the Agriculture Bill reflects the concerns of industry in Scotland,” he insisted.