NFU SCOTLAND starts 2019 on a healthy financial footing, with its membership growing again for a second year.

Publication of the union's annual accounts for 2018 show that its income is up by £132,000 on last year, with subscriptions accounting for £82,000 and returns from affinity deals generating a further £49,000 of the uplift.

Expenditure in 2018 was up £191,000 at £3.01 million, leaving an operating deficit this year of £28,000 as opposed to a surplus of £32,000 in 2017. However, investment income of £72,000 means that it ended with a net surplus of £44,000, compared to £111,000 in 2017. As a result, the balance sheet remains strong with net assets increasing by £58,424 to £2,968,225.

Membership at the financial year end was 8315, up from 8258 at the same time last year, an increase of 57.

Chief executive Scott Walker said: “NFU Scotland exists to lobby. We are here to bring pressure to bear on policy makers and commercial organisations to gain favourable outcomes for Scotland’s farmers and crofters in order to achieve a sustainable and profitable future for Scottish agriculture.

“In order to achieve this, we need to be underpinned by a robust financial base to give us the resources to employ the right people to be the advocates for the industry and to do the activities that will make a difference.

“I am pleased that once again we have had a good financial year. A lot of hard work by many people has seen our membership grow for a second year," said Mr Walker.

“I set a goal a few years back to grow affinity income and to return an amount equal to the value of subscriptions back to our members in the form of discounts on goods. Our affinity income continues to grow, and we now return discounts equal to the value of members subscriptions," he added.

“We will once again plough back our surplus into growing the activities we do. We will be putting new part time regional policy advisors in Orkney and Shetland to enhance the support we provide to members and we will continue to strengthen our lobbying activities to ensure that the voice of Scotland’s farmers and crofters is heard.”